Overcoming Public Speaking Fear: Strategies for Success Part 1

You’ve got a big presentation coming up. You’ve been working towards this for months. You’ve put in countless hours on research, data analysis, and writing. You know the content inside and out. So why do you all the sudden feel terrified?

Well you’re not a long. Since the beginning of Ethos3 we’ve been helping presenters just like yourself to own the stage and one of the most common things we get asked about is how to overcome the fear of public speaking.

Today, I want to break down a few tips and tricks that have helped me over the years and I’m sure will help you. In the coming blogs we’ll walk through the three different phases of a presentation and give you research backed tips to help at each step of the way. So let’s dive into the first phase.

Phase 1: Before You Speak

Prepare, prepare, prepare… and then prepare

I often get asked, “how many times should I practice my talk before I’m on stage?”
Before I tell people my answer I like to ask the question back, “how many times do you typically practice?” The answers range anywhere from 3 to 4 times with the really prepared people coming in at around 5 or 6 times. So what’s the correct answer?

Well, you might not like this, but experts all agree on the Plus 10 Rule.

The Plus 10 Rule states that you should practice a new presentation the same number of minutes of your talk… plus 10 more times. So if you’re giving a 15 minute talk, you should go through that talk 25 times before you head onto stage.

Note: this applies to new topics or presentations, if it’s a talk you’ve given before, adjust accordingly. But know this – it’s ALWAYS better to be overly prepared than under. 

Reframe your mindset

The brain is… well it’s complex to say the least, but as Comedian Nate Bargatze says, “one part of your brain is smart… the other part is dumb. You can trick your own brain.” Just like by smiling in a mirror for 10 seconds can improve your mood , you can rewire and reframe how your body responds to thinking about public speaking.

Before your presentation, visualize yourself being calm and confident on stage. Tell yourself you love public speaking. Focus on the positive outcomes (i.e. a raise, a promotion, a book deal, more speaking engagements), and you’ll notice that anxiety will start to fade. 

Don’t forget to breath

There are countless studies that break down the benefits of breathing, most notably… continuing to live is high on the list. But our favorite method of breathing to reduce anxiety and help you mentally prepare for your next talk is a method called “Box Breathing.” It will help you relax, clear your mind, and improve your focus. Before practicing your presentation, make sure that you begin with this exercise, that way as you’re about to step onto stage, you can settle back into this familiar exercise and reap in all the benefits.

Here’s how it’s done:

Box breathing involves four basic steps with each step lasting 4 seconds.

  1. Sit with your back supported and in a comfortable position 
  2. Breathing in through your nose
  3. Holding your breath, while focusing on remaining calm and relaxed
  4. Breathing out slowly through your mouth
  5. Repeat for one minute

If you work on these three steps while you’re preparing for your next talk, you’ll surely be set up for success and you’ll notice a drastically reduced level of anxiety.

Check back for our next two blogs that will break down what to do while you’re giving your talk and what to do when you’re done. And if you’re looking for one on one support to prepare for your next presentation, let us know here, we’d love to partner with you.

“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” – John F. Kennedy

You’ve got this!

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