as originally answered on Quora.com
Your question focuses on the fear that you and many people have about public speaking, not how to be a better public speaker. Yet, there lays the answer. As you become a better public speaker, your fear will reduce.
Many people use the acronym FEAR as follows: False Expectations Appearing Real. Fear is only in our minds. What one person fears, another may not. I work in psychiatry. A fellow worker named Mary was absolutely terrified of dealing with patients that got confrontational or aggressive. She would lock herself in the restroom until other staff had dealt with the situation.
Yet at the same time, Mary’s hobby was skydiving! I would certainly be fearful of jumping out of a perfectly good plane, but not Mary.
We aren’t born being afraid of public speaking, its something we develop. If we can become afraid, it is within us to become unafraid. The cure for fear is self-confidence.
So how do you overcome the fear of public speaking? It probably depends on how much time do you have to devote to overcoming the fear; if you are able to financially afford it and do you need to be unafraid by a certain date i.e. you have an upcoming event that you are required to speak at.
My first recommendation would be look for a Toastmasters club in your community. They have helped countless thousands of people overcome their fear of public speaking and finding their voice within. Each and everyone of us has a story to tell.
Toastmasters isn’t a fast process though. It is one that if you do the work required of you, you will reap the benefits. If time is of the essence for you, you could engage the services of a speech coach to work specifically on reducing or eliminating your fears. At the same time, I would still recommend joining a Toastmasters club for having a place to practice the techniques that your coach is working with you on. I know of many people that have joined multiple Toastmasters club to increase their opportunities to improve their skills and rapidly increase their self-confidence. Once again, that would require time and money to do so.
Another strategy that I recommend is to buy and read books on the subject of public speaking. I have found that there are lots of them at bargain bins, yard sales and thrift shops. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to develop a good resource library.
Youtube & TEDTalks are a great way to watch skilled speakers and emulate some of the tactics they are using.
This is really a short answer to a very real challenge. You don’t learn public speaking by osmosis. You have to get out there and do it. The same applies to overcoming any fear. You have to actively work at overcoming it. When I have overcome a personal fear I have often wondered about why I was afraid of something in the first place.
Good luck with becoming a confident speaker. Opportunity has a way of presenting itself when you are ready to move forward.
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.