I have to give presentations at work, but I'm scared of public speaking. How do I get over this agonizing fear?
According to the recent Chapman University Survey on American Fears, the fear of public speaking ranks above that of flying, heights, and even clowns. In fact, it's the most common phobia of all. The secret to mastering this anxiety is preparation, approaching it with a plan of action, and then practicing your presentation until your fear lessens.
First, determine what you want the audience to think, feel, or do differently after your presentation. Then to achieve that, decide on the three or four most important parts of your presentation they need to know. This will make it easier to focus and remember what you want to say.
With that in mind, the second step is to practice, practice, practice. Get in front of a mirror and rehearse your talk, focusing on those main points. If possible, do practice runs with a trusted friend or co-worker until you begin to feel your dread diminish through sheer repetition.
Third, visit the room where you will present early and make sure any equipment you plan to use works properly. This will help to increase your comfort level considerably. Last, when you begin your presentation, make eye contact with a couple of people, and speak to them as you would in a casual conversation. By preparing and practicing this way, you may find that speaking becomes more fun than frightening.
, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org