Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

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During the past 25 years, I have been presenting Shurley English to educators across the country.  So, as a seasoned presenter, I sometimes forget how uncomfortable some people feel about speaking in front of a crowd.  The very idea that someone would be that fearful of public speaking led me to this week’s topic:  “How to Prevent Glossophobia.”

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and it’s a real thing!  Statistically, most people fear public speaking more than death!  So, what can you do if you’re not a natural born speaker, yet you have to rise to the occasion?” 

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:

While content is always the most important factor in any presentation, the impact of your ability to effectively deliver the information is not to be underestimated.  Your job is to help the audience receive the message you want them to receive!  Your mind, face, body, and voice are tools that can be used to enhance your message.

  1. Be prepared and know your content. 
  2. Be genuine and sincere.
  3. Organize your thoughts and tell the audience what they need to know.
  4. Smile!  Your face is the first thing the audience sees!
  5. Have good eye contact.
  6. Use an open face that says, “I like you!”  This is the face you show your audience when you elevate your brows slightly and create the horizontal lines in your forehead.  It’s the face of warm, caring, animated conversation.
  7. Don’t have a closed face.  This face has a frown and the brows are often drawn tightly together.  Sometimes we get this look when we are thinking or feeling strongly about the subject.  Remember that when the audience sees you like this, they are seeing a negative face.
  8. Don’t have a neutral face.  This is the face you show when nothing moves but the mouth.  This face makes the audience feel as though you don’t really care whether they are interested in your topic or not.
  9. Use good posture while standing erect.
  10. Use your hands naturally; however, don’t over exaggerate your hand movements.
  11. Don’t clutch one hand over the other wrist, put your hands in your pockets, stand with your hands behind your back, or fold your arms in front of the chest.
  12. Speak in conversational voice.
  13. Have good pitch in your voice.  This is the ability to use the highness and lowness of your voice in a pleasing way.
  14. Don’t talk too fast or too slow.
  15. On a scale of 1 to 10, your volume should be around 6 or 7.
  16. Practice speaking without using words or sounds like:  “um,” “uh,” “like,” “kind of,” or “Do you know what I mean?”
  17. Use simple, brief, clear, concise, and easy-to-understand words that support the content during your presentation.
  18. Be positive and have a good attitude when delivering the content.  Avoid making negative inferences.
  19. Avoid telling detailed experience stories.  They can be time consuming and misread by the audience.
  20. Be comfortable and confident.  The greater your confidence, the stronger your impact will be!

The key to developing an effective delivery is to practice “a LOT.”  Have confidence that you know your content because you have put in the time.  Turn your focus towards conveying understanding about the subject and to allowing your passion for your subject to come out. 

Practice in front of a mirror.  Watch your facial expressions and your body movements.  Practice in the car.  Practice during every spare moment!  When the time comes, you will hopefully feel the confidence necessary to present your material.

Glassophobia Prevention requires all of these things and more.  Again, you can’t practice too much.  Take my suggestions and run with them because conquering the fear of public speaking will give you a great sense of accomplishment.


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Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.