SIUC Dept. of Communication Studies RSOs
Whether you are speaking to your class, giving a toast at a wedding, or presenting an idea to co-workers, you will have to encounter public speaking at some point in your life. I am Mitch Brown, the Director of the Speakers Center here at SIUC, a second year M.A. Student in Communication Studies, and a CMST 101 Intro to Oral Communication G.T.A. (Graduate Teaching Assistant). With my experience, I am here to teach you how to successfully overcome your fear of public speaking.
One of the biggest fears of public speaking is the anxiety before the act of speaking in public. I would argue that mostly everyone reading this article knows the anxiety that builds up before you have to get up and speak, but I am here to tell you that it’s a perfectly normal feeling. With the help of this article, you should feel more confident when the time comes to speak in front of an audience.
Why it Happens
Psychology Today’s article “Why Are We Scared of Public Speaking?” looks at this anxiety that most people feel. This fear of public speaking is called Glossophobia and it’s fairly common. About 25% of people experience it. According to this reading, this is why we feel anxiety for public speaking:
While we tend to think of public speaking in professional settings such as the classroom or office, there are some who do it for solely building confidence and improving their craft. Mohammed Qahtani, the 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking, is an example of someone who has built a solid foundation of confidence in public speaking. In an interview with Jessica Dukharan, he explains his process of getting ready for a speech:
"Prepare your mind before you walk up in front of people. In this you should accept that you will make mistakes but practicing your speech before is the best way to prevent that from happening."
Qahtani also said this when asked about staying composed and confident on stage:
"You are doing something that most people in the audience can’t even dare to do, so why should you be afraid? You are already better than most of them.”
Preparation and a good mindset are very important when it comes to delivering a powerful speech.
While confidence is key in most situations, preparation and practice can go much further. Liya Panayotova’s article “Preparing for Public Speaking” outlines the different preparations everyone should make before standing in front of a crowd.
The first is organization. You want the speech to flow naturally as you talk so the audience can listen with ease and not piece together a puzzle.
After you have worked out an organized speech, practice it! Give your speech in the mirror or even record yourself to make sure you sound to yourself how you want to sound to the audience.
The preparation you make before the speech will pay off many times over when the time comes to deliver it. And as Panayotova says, “after the speech, when you realize that not only did you survive, but you did a decent job, despite your fear, reward yourself with something you enjoy.”
Just remember when that when you have to speak publicly that everyone gets nervous. By just getting up there, you’re already doing something that most wouldn’t, and if you prepare properly, you will feel a lot less nervous. The process of writing and delivering a great speech is something that no one is perfect at, and like most skills you can only improve through practice!
If you’re a SIUC student and want more detailed help with preparing for a speech, come to the Speakers Center in room 2205 located in the Communications Building. The volunteers and I would be more than happy to help with any part of the process.
CMST Speakers Center (siucmst.org)
Mitch Brown is a second year Master's student within the Communication Studies Department. He is the Dircetor of the Speakers Center, and a CMST 101 Intro to Oral Communication G.T.A. (Graduate Teaching Assistant). He has two Bachelors Degrees, one in History and one in Communication Studies.