As originally answered on Quora.com
Assuming that you are over the age of 18, the undeniable best way to overcome your fear and to become not only a good speaker but an exceptional speaker, is to join Toastmasters.
If you go to https://toastmasters.org and then locate the Find a Club feature. It will quickly tell you if there is a club near you. Guests are usually quite welcome. I say usually because some clubs may be restricted to employees of a certain business. You can also usually check out a couple of meetings to see if it is for you, before you join.
There is value in reading self-help books. I still do and have my own library. The problem with them is that while they may provide you with sage advice, they don’t provide you with the opportunity to speak in public. You don’t learn public speaking by osmosis. You have to get up and speak!
In addressing your fear, you aren’t alone. There is an old hard to find quote, from a book from the 1970s The Book of Lists. In a list of top 10 fears experienced by people, fear of public speaking was number one. Number three was fear of death!
Something is wrong with that. More people would rather die than speak in public? I’ll speak for hours, just don’t kill me!
Whether there is any validity to the list doesn’t really matter. It’s how the so-called fear affects you. Many of us that help develop public speakers use the acronym FEAR (false expectations appearing real). It has probably become an overused cliché, but the concept is still valid. Fear is one’s head. What one person fears, another loves. If it’s not real, we can make changes in our behaviour to overcome our fear and become self-confident.
I’m a testimonial to the fear reducing process and benefitting from the Toastmaster program. I have gone from being very shy and to being terrified of public speaking. Now I am more comfortable and continuously look for opportunities to speak in public as well as teaching others how to do the same.
I would also suggest sharing stories more with friends and colleagues. Research and develop opinions on contemporary issues. I even practice speaking these stories when I am alone driving in my car. I get the odd look of puzzlement from the other drivers, watching me talking to myself, especially when I start using both hands for gesturing …
Thanks for the question … https://toastmasters.org. Find your voice!
For further discussion on public speaking, speech development, communication skills and Toastmasters, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
Blow Your Own Horn!: Personal Branding for Business Professionals
Power Networking For Shy People: How to Network Like a Pro
The Power of Persuasion: Mastering the Art of Influence
The Power of Promotion: Online Marketing For Toastmasters Club Growth
The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies
Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.