I have only met a few people who actually enjoy public speaking. Most people would rather…do anything but speak in front of a group of people. I know I have alluded to Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, “Fake It Until You Become It,” a few times now. But, here’s the thing: it’s so true. In order to overcome your anxiety in public speaking, you have to face the fear. You have to practice it. And sometimes, you have to fake it.
This is where positive self-talk also helps. What you tell yourself influences what happens. If you tell yourself that you have no idea what you’re talking about, and you are going to fumble through your words because you are just horrible at speaking in front of people–well, you probably will live up to that. The opposite is also true: if you tell yourself you will do well, you likely will.
And know this: your audience wants you to succeed.
I remember at my first job post graduate school, I was responsible for running various therapy groups throughout the week. Several of them were psycho-educational, which meant I was doing a lot of teaching. I had never felt so uneasy. Afterall, I was trained in counseling psychology, not teaching! But I couldn’t let them “smell” my fear. So, I faked my confidence until I developed it. And now, I love teaching and speaking to groups of people–no faking necessary.
Fast Company offers additional advice on how to cope with public speaking here.