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How to overcome your fear of public speaking and give a great presentation - The Week

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2) How to prepare

Obviously you have to prepare the material. But how can you prepare for the fear?

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.

From my interview with Susan:

I really had to desensitize myself to my fears of public speaking. I did that by practicing in very small, very supportive, and very low-speed environments where it didn't matter if I screwed up. And eventually you get used to the strange feeling of being looked at, which used to make me feel horrified. You become accustomed to it over time and your fear dissipates.

3) Know the first minutes cold

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.

Work especially hard on your introduction. Research has shown that a speaker's anxiety level begins to drop significantly after the first 30 to 60 seconds of a presentation. Once you get through the introduction, you should find smoother sailing the rest of the way.[The Art of Public Speaking]

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