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Interactive Lesson on Overcoming the Fear of Speaking to Groups

by Ron Kurtus (revised 28 July 2000)

If you have already read the essay Overcome the Fear of Speaking to Groups, you can use this Interactive Lesson to test your knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. Otherwise, you can simply try to answer the questions to help you learn the material.

If you give an incorrect answer, a dialog box will jump up to let you know. A correct answer will skip you forward to the explanation of the material.

(Note that your browser must be JavaScript-enabled for the interaction to function.)

Introduction

Many people have anxieties and fears about speaking in front of a group. I know that I have had that problem. In fact, the fear of public speaking has been listed as greater than the fear of death (but not as much as the fear of snakes).

Why are people afraid to speak to groups?

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That's right!

The reason most people get anxious when required to speak to a group is that they are afraid of looking foolish or stupid in front of many of their peers and important people. They are afraid that their mind will go blank or that their lack of speaking skills will lower the opinion others have of them.

Being humiliated can destroy a person's ego and confidence. It can really ruin your day.


What is a one trick to overcome speaking fear?

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Correct!

There are several steps or tricks to use to overcome the fear of making a mistake or looking foolish when you speak to a group:

In the following material, I will explain each of those points.


How can you be well prepared to speak?

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Good Answer!

One of the best ways to make sure you don't make foolish mistakes is to be well prepared before you speak to a group. This doesn't mean to memorize exactly what you plan to say. Rather, it is to have a good outline of facts and information that you can talk about.

A professional in any field does not leave anything to chance before a big game, important performance, or critical presentation to corporate executives. Strategies are laid out, all material is ready, contingency plans are made, and every detail is taken care of.

When you are well prepared, chances of failure or goof-ups are greatly reduced. You feel more relaxed and sure of yourself, because you have all the bases covered.


What sort of backup can you have?

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Correct!

It is worthwhile to bring along a "security blanket" or "safety net" in case something goes wrong in your presentation. For example, having your speech outlined on some sort of cards is a good backup in case you have a mental lapse. Referring to your notes is certainly acceptable to refresh your memory.

Of course, though, you should be prepared enough that you don't have to completely depend on your notes for your material.


How can you reduce your fear of the audience?

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You are a smart!

Speaking to important people or dignitaries can create fear in a person. This fear can be overcome by visualizing the people as not all that important.

One old trick is to imagine that the audience is naked. Or perhaps imagine them all in clown outfits. A ridiculous image will make them seem not all that important. It is surprising how such an image can relax you.

Remember that they are just people and that they are there to hear what you have to say.


Why should you practice your speech?

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Good answer!

Even if you know your material very well, practice is extremely important. The more you give a talk, the more automatic it becomes, the more meat it can have, and the more confidence you have in your abilities to give the speech.

Practice alone, to small groups, to friends. Practice, practice, practice.


Where is a good place to hone your speaking skills?

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Right!

A good place to practice your speeches and to get helpful guidance in giving presentation is through your local Toastmaster Club. It is a well-run organization that helps millions of people hone their speaking skills and overcome any fears they have in speaking.

Check with the Toastmaster World Headquarters, to find a club in your area.

Summary

The way to overcome the fear of speaking to a group is to make sure you are well prepared, have some backup material ready in case you forget your lines, visualize your audience as not so important, and practice as much as you can before you speak.


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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