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12 ways to reduce your fears of public speaking

Speaking in public - even about the business you love - is a widely held fear. So how do you turn that fear into confidence?

1. Speak in public whenever you get a chance


It doesn't matter whether you speak for 30 seconds or 30 minutes; just take that first step. By taking advantage of opportunities to speak in front of others as often as you can you will break through the fear and in no time you will be unstoppable.



2. Smile


Smile and look people in the eye. Confidence is contagious. Your confidence will make your listeners feel good and soon they will be smiling too.



3. Speak about what you know


Your background, your history and your experience are unique. People love to hear others share their unique perspectives. Use material from your past or present so your audience can enter your world and experience it through your eyes.



4. Time


Leave them wanting more. Brevity is key. You should be able to deliver your message in a few well-considered sentences. If you tend to be long-winded, you will need to work on cutting your speech down. Keep it snappy, focused and concise.



5. Humour


Humour endears an audience to the speaker. But use it wisely - too much and your message can be lost in the jokes. So sprinkle it rather than ladle it.



6. Use pictures


A picture is worth a thousand words. You can compose word pictures (verbal descriptions that paint vivid pictures) or use real images to illustrate your message.



7. Fake until you make it


If you still feel your stomach churning and your legs wobbling act as if you are cool and calm. Don a mask of confidence, smile, look directly at your audience and speak. They will never know how nervous you are on the inside.



8. Find a mentor


A mentor can help you grow through listening, feedback and advice. Someone who can already do well what you dread is the ideal mentor and their experience and skills are just what you need.



9. Be ambitious


Set goals, adjust them and review them. Always set them a little beyond your reach so that you have to stretch.



10. Keep at it


Try and try again. Keep on getting up and giving it a go. No matter how badly you feel it went (and it is rarely as bad as you think), get up, try again and focus on improving through practice.



11. Travel


Don't always speak at the same events. Go to new events or visit groups you've never met before. This will give you new material, new experiences and new feedback. It creates a cycle of expansion that will help you develop your speaking - and your business.



12. Use "I"


The "I" word is powerful. Use it to reach out and connect with your listeners. Use it to express feelings, experiences and thoughts. The "I" encapsulates your individuality; the part of your business that no one else can copy.



By following these tips you can overcome your fears of speaking in public. They will take you from pen and page to people and public; and connect you with new customers.



Copyright © 2016 Frances Cahill of Toastmasters International.

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