Command The Crowd: 3 Tips To Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking

by AJ Agrawal
Paramount Pictures

Public speaking is something most of us have to do once in a while, and it can be one of the scariest experiences for some.

When you first start out as an entrepreneur, you’ll be doing a lot of public speaking.

You’ll be pitching to angel investors, venture capitalists, family, friends and really anyone who will listen.

When I first started my company, I was scared out of my mind to speak in public.

However, I found out very quickly that unless I got over my fear, my company was not going to raise the money it needed and would be out of business in a flash.

Although public speaking is common, a lot of people are never able to get over their fear, even after years of trial and error.

The main reason for this is because we let our fear get to our heads.

Many entrepreneurs suffer from performance anxiety.

They are so concerned with how they will perform that they start to appear anxious, and even suffer from panic attacks in extreme cases.

While many of us can get over this fear after speaking many times, there is also a large portion of people who can’t get over their anxiety, no matter how many times they try.

These people either avoid public speaking altogether, or struggle time and time again when they are forced to.

This leads to a downward spiral where the speaker becomes more nervous and panicked each time he or she is set to speak.

Eventually, these people just avoid any opportunity to speak, no matter what.

They give up their time to shine to someone else, rather than taking the risk, no matter the reward.

At work, they pass up promotions and assignments because they're too scared to speak up in meetings.

This is often the case with people who have feared public speaking from a very young age.

They will go to great lengths to avoid making presentations and even let people less talented pitch investors or customers.

If you want to be a successful leader at your startup, you can’t run from the spotlight.

Instead, follow these three rules below, and you’ll be a professional public speaker in no time:

1. Focus on your breathing.

You can tell how nervous someone is based on how fast he or she is breathing before he or she goes on stage.

When you breathe in a short, shallow manner, your body is more likely to enter a state of panic.

As humans, we are designed to shorten our breath when we are in trouble.

Thinking you're in trouble is the last state of mind you want to be in before a speech.

Instead, try to speak slowly and steadily. Don’t take small, quick breaths before you go up to speak.

Practice deep breathing for 10 minutes before your presentation.

This will send a signal to your brain to calm down and relax, making it much easier for you to focus and get in the right state of mind before you speak.

2. Practice three times as much as you think you need.

Practice in front of a mirror until you can start in the middle of your speech and finish it perfectly.

It really helps boost your morale and confidence before the big pitch. The more nervous you get, the more hours you should be putting into practice.

Later on, when you get better at controlling your nerves, you can ease off on the prep time.

Until then, practice until your employees want to tape your mouth shut.

3. Visualize the situation.

When you practice in front of the mirror, imagine the investors or customers who will be in attendance.

Do you know the venue? If so, picture you're center stage, just how it’ll be in real life.

That way, when you finally get to show time, your nerves will be calm because the situation will be just as you expected.