What is common between Kapil Dev and Hrithik Roshan? Both high-profile celebrities once had a fear of public speaking. Surprising, isn’t it?

Kapil had said in his initial years he was not fluent in English and felt awkward in communicating. Hrithik, on the other hand, suffered from stammering which led to a loss of confidence in his early years and an acute fear of speaking.

Both these celebrities for a certain period had glossophobia. But they strove to overcome it and they did.

What is glossophobia?

The term glossophobia combines two Greek words—glosso, meaning tongue, and phobos, meaning fear. A strong fear of public speaking, sometimes leading to a nervous breakdown, is called glossophobia.

People with glossophobia are afraid of speaking to large audiences. They find it difficult to express themselves or present their ideas in meetings, classrooms, conferences or group settings. They feel mental blocks as well as physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or increased heartbeat.

Glossophobia limits your verbal communication. It hampers your progress in academic, social, and career opportunities. It is estimated that around 75% of people suffer from some degree of fear of public speaking.

The positive side is that you can overcome the fear of speaking. Roshan worked on his weakness by reading out loud and stressing on pronunciation and articulation. He said that it was his greatest battle, one he overcame through sheer willpower.

How to overcome the fear of public speaking?

Meet Rajesh. He always nervous while speaking in front of others. He spoke too fast, resulting in his words getting jumbled up. This, in turn, made him forget the next point, confusing him further. After one too many slip-ups, Rajesh decided to act. He observed and studied good public speakers. He reduced his fear of speaking by using techniques such as controlling breathing, reducing the speed of speaking, taking pauses at the right place, and emphasizing important words.

Where there is a will, there is a way. The fear of public speaking is, in essence, the fear of being ridiculed. If you want to succeed in your personal and professional life, it is important to know how to overcome the fear of public speaking.

You can take specific steps to eliminate your fear of public speaking, depending on the severity of your fear.

Tips to overcome your fear of speaking

  1. Identify your fears

Identify the source of your fear. Are you afraid of being laughed at? Are you scared that you do not have enough knowledge? Or do you feel afraid to face an audience? Find out. It will be easier to solve the problem once you know it.

  1. Increase your exposure

Exposure is the most effective strategy to remove your phobia of public speaking. Expose yourself to various public speaking settings—meetings, group discussions, or sharing platforms. Give small speeches there and learn to cope with your anxiety among trusted groups.

  1. Practice regularly

Practice increases your comfort level in front of a crowd. Read up about the topics that interest you, prepare your speech and practice. Give attention to expressions, body language, and muscle relaxation. This will increase your confidence level and decrease your phobia of public speaking.

  1. Focus on your material

Be knowledgeable about your topic. Understand it thoroughly; don’t just memorize it because there is always a risk of forgetting. Know the essence of your speech and important points. Practice in front of the mirror.

  1. Analyze your audience

Are you speaking in front of experts or amateurs? How much do they know about the topic? What are they expecting from you? Analyze your audience and deliver your speech accordingly.

  1. Learn to relax

Master relaxation techniques and use them whenever required. Learn to concentrate on relaxing every part of your body. Take deep breaths. Learning to reduce nervousness will help you to overcome your phobia of public speaking.

  1. Think positive

Just before your speech, try and place yourself in a positive frame of mind.  Remember your practice. Think about the insights your speech will give your audience. Remember the appreciation you will get if your speech is successful.

With focus and efforts, you can effectively curtail your phobia of public speaking. Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course helps you overcome your fear of speaking with the Prepare-Practice-Present technique. The Harappa Idea Funnel teaches you how to structure your thoughts into the main point with supporting evidence.

Sign up for the course and get rid of any butterflies in your stomach the next time you have to speak in public.

Explore topics & skills such as Speaking Skills & Mastering the Art of Public Speaking from our Harappa Diaries section and overcome your fear of speaking.

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