Four common fears about public speaking.

When we stand up in front of a group of people and start to speak nerves kick in. This is an animal response to nerves that sends our equilibrium reeling.

But there are many factors that increase our feelings of nervousness when public speaking.

There are two broad types: 

Internal – that is how we personally respond; and 

External factors – things we feel are outside our control.

Public Speaking Training can help you overcome your fear

Liz Banks - Skillstudio MD If you want some expert coaching to help you overcome your fear and enhance your public speaking skills then Skillstudio are there to help. We provide:-

Overcome Fear of Public Speaking
A 1-day public workshop for absolute beginners to presenting and public speaking held in Central London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh & Glasgow.

Effective Public Speaking
This 2-day Public intermediate level workshop is held regularly in Central London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow.

Advanced Public Speaking
This 2-day Public course is held regularly in Central London.

We can also run our public speaking courses for your organisation on an in-house basis at your premises throughout the UK and Europe. We also offer 1-2-1 coaching in all aspects of public speaking throughout the UK.

Call us today on 08456 444 150 if you want to discuss how our training can help you or your team.

External Fears of public speaking

The most common external ones are:

  • Importance of the stakes involved (career/status)
  • The size and composition of the audience
  • The venue – Is it the well-known Board Room or the unknown Conference Centre
  • The time of day – some people are better in the morning and some in the evening
  • Your personal state of emotional wellbeing – recent personal events may have taken their toll (relationship break-ups/bereavement) or made you feel great (falling in love/getting a promotion)
  • Your recent performance when speaking – 3 good ones in a row or 3 disasters?

Internal fears when speaking in public

On top of these external factors are four common internal fears or worries:

1. Fear of being nervous

(As Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself .”)

People often say, “If I look nervous on the outside, my internal, confident persona crumbles.”

So often the battle is not with the fear itself but between two parts of yourself.

Your confident persona is in conflict with the sensitive and feeling part of you.

If you broke your arm you wouldn’t pretend you hadn’t broken your arm and divorce yourself from it. Everyone can see you’re wearing a plaster cast.

Try admitting your fear to yourself. Even try saying, “I am excited to be speaking to you today. I’m SO excited that I’m scared stiff because I want to do the best job for you I can. So if you see my hand shaking it’s only excitement!”

2. Fear of being judged – worrying what others will think of us

We often think the whole audience is sitting there judging us, as if we were contestants on THE X FACTOR. Just remember, that audiences have their own issues to worry about. For example:

  • May a sick child at home
  • Maybe thinking about what to question to ask afterwards
  • Maybe angry with a co-worker for plotting against him at work
  • Maybe worried about losing his job
  • Maybe worried he has an uncomfortable ulcer

Because of this, your audience will tune in and out of your speech thinking about themselves and their own worries. They might very well not notice if you blush or that your hand shook for a couple of seconds.

3. Fear of going off script – forgetting your words

Fear of forgetting your words is, of course, a worry for many professional actors and singers. Barbara Striesand once forgot her lyrics in 1968 and didn’t perform live again for years. If you are giving a presentation, most of the audience will not know what you had intended to say. So if you forget your words or ‘go off script’ they probably won’t even be aware of it!

You could occasionally try speaking off the cuff – you probably know your subject well enough anyway. And speaking off the cuff can often have great benefits in making it sound as if you really mean what you say and are not merely reading a script. (A word of caution here – you can only do this is you know your subject well or you have prepared thoroughly.)

4. Fear of large audiences

If you are speaking to under a dozen, you can see their eyes and their faces and read how you’re doing. In larger groups – we often feel a ‘mass of humanity’ starring back at us in judgement. And if you see one person yawning you tend to think that everyone you can’t see clearly is also bored.

Remember, even the largest audience is made up of individuals. Try to talk to them individually, each one at a time.

BUT Fear can save your life

Finally Fear is not always bad, it can save your life – like avoiding a crash or falling off a cliff.

But remember that we need Big fears for big threats and only Little fears for little threats.

You can allow yourself a little fear when speaking in public – a little dose of adrenalin can up your excitement factor – but let’s not get carried away, it’s not actually a life and death situation. Try to enjoy it!

About the author of this public speaking article

This article was written by Robin, one of Skillstudio’s consultant trainers. 

Robin is based in London, is an excellent trainer; and runs many of our public speaking training sessions (from 1-2-1 coaching through to Masterclasses).  

You can read his training bio here

Public speaking coaching

For most people, becoming more successful at public speaking is a relatively slow and painful process with many never really achieving their true potential.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.  

You can quickly develop these skills with Skillstudio through expert coaching and practice.  And by enhancing your public speaking skills you will be able to develop a much stronger influence on your audiences and reap the business success that goes with that.

To get some coaching in public speaking, click on one of the links below:-

Public Speaking Coaching  – 121 coaching
Public Speaking Courses – Open to members of the public
Public Speaking for Business – In-house training for companies and organisations

Skillstudio also offer public courses, 1-2-1 coaching and in-house training in many aspects of presentation skills and communication skills, including public speaking, vocal skills and body language awareness.

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