It is no secret that some people are secretly terrified of public speaking, while others take to it like a fish to water. But I would challenge everyone to beef up their public speaking abilities, because you never know when you might need it.  

Public speaking is an important skill, as it allows you to express your views convincingly when all eyes are on you. I’m not saying that you need to become well known for your public speaking abilities, but I do think that the ability to be comfortable in front of a crowd is a skill that can further your professional and social life, even (or especially) in this work-from-home age.  

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  1. Create opportunities 

A friend of mine was absolutely terrified of public speaking. When she became a schoolteacher, she didn’t see herself as doing public speaking, she was just teaching, after all. Months into her teaching career, she was asked to give a speech in front of all the pupils and their parents. When she took the stage, she was surprised to find that she was not nervous at all. All those months of teaching had made her totally comfortable in front of an audience. The lesson here is that we can all get better by exposing ourselves to speaking to smaller groups or groups where there is less pressure. In doing so, we get more comfortable as the audience grows.  

2. Never fear failure 

Most people who fear public speaking do so because they envisage themselves choking and being publicly humiliated. With this mindset, things will almost certainly go poorly. Instead, think of how great it would be if you could give an excellent speech. Imagine yourself on stage, talking comfortably and having the audience’s undivided attention. Also, keep a personal story or a joke in the bag that you can use at any moment in your speech. Then, when you feel nervous or feel that the audience isn’t fully focused, you can use the story or joke to release the tension and put you at ease again.  

3. Breathe 

It is simple advice, but so effective. Calm breathing leads to a calm demeanor. When we are nervous, we tend to speed up. This is the very moment you need to slow down. The audience doesn’t want you to fail either, so take your time. Nobody will think it strange if you take a moment to take a sip of water either, just to help you get back to an even pace.  

4. Enjoy it 

When you worry about public speaking, it shows that you really care, and this is a good thing. We don’t always get to experience nervous energy and adrenaline in our daily lives, so enjoy the moment, be present and feel the excitement. Then use this to channel it into your speech. It is no longer your weakness, but your superpower!