How To Get Over Stage Fright, And Master Public Speaking

By Vrinda Gupta

Rare are those gems who’re born with magic in their words, and a spring in their step. Most of us get butterflies before going up on stage- whether it is presenting a paper in class, or giving a farewell speech. There’ll always come a time when you have to speak in front of an audience. If you feel like the jitters are getting to you, here are a couple of tips to help you overcome the glossophobia and nail that speech:

1.) Talk to strangers:

Your fundamental insecurity stems from the fear of judgement. The question of what people would think holds you back. Once you shed these inhibitions, you’ll cinch the art of public speaking. Find ways to make conversations with strangers, to instill confidence. If you learn not to care about what a stranger thinks of you, speaking to a bunch of them won’t seem like a big deal.

2.) Speak out loud:

The cliched, tried-and-tested trick. Look at yourself in the mirror while speaking, or record yourself to note your body language. Do you come across as nervous? Do you flail your arms too much, do you constantly “umm” between sentences? Practice your speech as much as you need to, before the D-Day.

3.) A friend in need:

Once you’re done practicing, grab a friend or two, promise them a doughnut, and make them sit and stare at you while you speak. It’s okay if you get flustered initially- that happens. Do it until you’re confident. Because if you can’t mess up in front of your friends, how will you speak in front of a crowd of strangers? Ask them to point out your flaws, and then work upon them.

4.) Make eye contact:

When you make eye contact, either of the following two things will happen- you’ll find that one odd guy in the audience who’s actually paying attention to you and is nodding along, which will give you just the right encouragement and confidence you need. Or you’ll look around and see everyone is dozing off, which will create a bubble- since no one’s paying attention, you’ll begin to ease up.

5.) …Or Don’t:

Of course, that last scenario could backfire and make you lose confidence just as fast. If you can’t make eye contact, pretend. Look around the audience, like you’re focusing on different parts of the crowd. Don’t focus on any individual, or register faces. Just take a glance and move on. You could be looking at the walls instead, for all they’d know. Walk around if possible, you can avoid constantly facing the audience that way.

6.) It doesn’t stop here:

Do not shirk from public speaking. The more you run away, the deeper that fear will root. Speak up in class. If the teacher asks someone to read out loud, volunteer. If you’re someone who’s old enough to pay taxes, speak up at gatherings. Practice during your presentations. Remember- if King George VI can do it, so can you.

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