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The Fear of Public Speaking

by Michelle Freitas

Most of us experience difficulties with speaking in public. When it is necessary for us to make a public presentation (whether it be for family, friends or strangers ),we begin to shake, become flushed, start stuttenng or have other uncontrollable signs of discomfort.

There are many means by which to cope with this fear. One is to take a deep breath before delivering a speech; another is to practice relaxation exercises. But I have found, through personal experience, that there is no truly effective way to keep your heart from pounding and your face from becoming flushed. I have learned that the only way to cope with this fear is to simply face it and overcome it, by getting up and delivering your speech.

Whenever I have delivered a speech or other presentation, I showed all the signs of nervousness. Not only did my heart beat faster, I also began to shake and stumble over words in my speech.

The only way I have gotten over my phobia has been by simply doing public presentations over and over again, until I knew what I was doing.

Both this year and last, I was asked to participate in the Lions Club Speech Contest. I was aware of an improvement in my level of self-control and confidence this year than had not been present during last year's competition. I delivered my speech this year with much more ease and fluidity than I had at the exact same podium only one year before. Because of this added level of self-confidence and experience, I was rated higher in this year's compoeition than I had been last year.

My increase in self confidence was its own reward, however, and it will assist me in the future when I have to give presentations. Volunteering to deliver for associations like the Lions Club or just giving presentations in front of a class will give any person the experience needed to overcome their fear of publc demonstration. Experience is the only true way to rid ourselves of that fear.

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