Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

By Todd Dewett, Andersen Alumnus, author and speaker

Speaking is a big part of what I do professionally. I also love coaching and educating around this topic, and I sure do get asked this question a lot. Let me share a few quick ideas, and please pile on and share what has worked for you too.

Okay, here’s my take: this is a skill you can learn! You need practice and feedback which bring you comfort. However, for most of us (even the pros), anxiety around speaking never goes away completely, though with practice it does become very manageable.

A simple approach to chasing away the fear fast:

Just start speaking! Every week find multiple opportunities to speak to a group. It might not be presentations, but just making public comments does help you gain comfort. For example: school, church, zoom call, meetings at work, a civic group, etc. Speak up!

Make more actual presentations. Volume helps tremendously. Consider weekly meetings, client presentations, brown-bag or employee group meetings, and maybe Toastmasters too. Always prepare very well, then take the mic and deliver.

Embrace education. A coach, book, blog, course, etc. See speaking for what it is – a bunch of small, related skills you can learn (e.g., adjusting volume, pacing, using your face and hands). Education demystifies any skill.

Get feedback. Others see you differently than you see yourself. Try a coach, ask a peer to watch you, and definitely study video of yourself speaking. It hurts at first but quickly becomes very digestible.

Just take one step at a time. Gain a little new comfort. Then a little more. You’ve got this!

Dr. Todd Dewett is one of the world’s most watched leadership personalities: a thought leader, an authenticity expert, best-selling author, top global instructor at LinkedIn Learning, a TEDx speaker, and an Inc. Magazine Top 100 leadership speaker. He has been quoted in the New York Times, TIME, Businessweek, Forbes, and many other outlets. After beginning his career with Andersen Consulting and Ernst & Young he completed his PhD in Organizational Behavior at Texas A&M University and enjoyed a career as an award-winning professor.Visit his home online at www.drdewett.com or connect with Todd on LinkedIn. He can be reached at todd@drdewett.com