“If people cannot articulate their ideas in written and oral form,” says Stephen Cox, chair and associate professor of the Department of Organizational Communication at Murray State University in Kentucky, “then those people fail to exist in our social world; they’re invisible. The way you are known and come to know others is through communication.”
Despite the fact that we communicate every day of our lives, people still find doing so in front of a group — or even an authority figure — quite daunting (if not terrifying). This is why participating in a speech club or public speaking group such as Toastmasters is so important.
At the root of the fear of public speaking is a fear of being judged or evaluated. Therefore it is important to bolster your self esteem and self confidence. Realize that not everyone is going to like what you have to say, and that’s O.K. It doesn’t necessarily say anything about you as a person. So get over it.
Practicing — facing your fear and doing it anyway — is very helpful. I used to be terrified of impromptu speeches, but after enough practice I grew to love it. It’s kind of like that song that the character Anna sings at the beginning of The King and I:
Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect And whistle a happy tune So no one will suspect I’m afraid.
So — when you get up in-front of a group to speak, pretend you aren’t nervous. Concentrate on your speech and an image of you presenting it perfectly. And, before you know it, you’ll begin to look forward giving presentations.