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How To Overcome Fear Of Public Speaking And Give A Great Presentation

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You can tell I really like an article when I take a lot of notes.

And I took a LOT of notes from this article.

We'll start with something simple.

It's okay to not be perfect:

In Scott Berkun’s excellent Confessions of a Public Speaker he points out that anytime we talk it’s a bit of a mess.

Even the unedited speeches of great orators like Martin Luther King and Churchill have numerous errors. 

People know this and are naturally forgiving.

Read more:

The most important thing is to practice:

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and an introvert herself, is now a professional public speaker.

How did she overcome public speaking fear?

She practiced in front of small, supportive groups to desensitize herself.

Read more:

The most important thing to practice is the beginning of the talk:

The Art of Public Speaking makes an excellent point: work especially hard practicing your intro.

Not just because it grabs the audience and sets the tone, but research shows having the beginning down cold can help with jitters.

Anxiety levels drop after a few minutes so having the intro well-rehearsed gets you through the toughest part of the talk.

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How to destress before the talk:

-Going to the gym the morning before the talk

-Getting to the venue early so you don’t have to rush

-Doing tech and sound rehearsal well before your start time

-Walking around the stage so your body feels safe in the room

-Sitting in the audience so you have a physical sense of what they will see

-Eating early enough so you won’t be hungry, but not right before your talk

-Talking to some people in the audience before you start (if it suits you), so it’s no longer made up of strangers (friends are less likely to try to eat you)

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Make friends with some audience members before the talk.

Eric calls this cheating but I call it common sense.

Berkun recommends talking to a few audience members before the presentation, and referencing them by name during the talk.

This has three benefits:

  • Now the audience members aren’t all strangers to you.
  • Those people feel special and engaged when you mention them.
  • The rest of the audience feels like you’re part of the group.

Read more:

Need more help? Eric has plenty more articles at :

I'm still afraid of public speaking but I will come back to Eric's article the next time I am forced to speak.

Read it again:

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