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23 Ways To Kick The Shit Out Of Your Public Speaking Anxiety

~ deep, long breaths in ~

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We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what helped them to overcome their fear of public speaking. Here are some of their helpful, inspiring, and practical suggestions.

1. "I used to be terrified of public speaking, but then I joined a drama class! Not only was it really fun, it made public speaking an activity I use daily and it's now honestly something I enjoy."

FangirlofBooks

2. "Practicing in front of the mirror has significantly helped me. I focus on standing with better posture, making eye contact and limiting my gestures that could be distracting to my audience."

Veronica

3. "My professor told me to always find something about the speech you're giving that you're passionate about and focus on that. People always want to hear someone speak passionately about something, so trying to find joy and passion in even boring speeches made me want to present my speeches well."

–Mattie, Facebook

5. "In terms of speaking at school, I just realised that my peers really don't care. So I focus on appealing to the professor. Knowing I have that one focus helps me maintain confidence."

–Blair

6. "When I was in debate in high school, we were told to look over the audience's heads at the back of the room. Looking at people's faces can make you forget what you were going to say or freak you out a little, but if you're looking over their heads, your chin is up and you look confident. Once you get comfortable with that, you can try making occasional eye contact with random audience members."

–Bonnie

7. "I just remind myself that I'm probably never going to see these people again and for some reason, it helps."

Amy

9. "I watch a ton of professional wrestling. I see how they speak, pause, build to a point, close an argument, react to the audience, and hit their bullet points. While you don't have to tell people you're going to shove your foot STRAIGHT UP THEIR CANDY ASS, it's helped me understand the fundamentals of communicating with a live audience. I got my last job by pretending to be Paul Heyman."

–Andy, Facebook

10. "The first step for me was to figure out exactly what I was afraid of up there. Easier said than done because that level of honest introspection is hard. I finally realised I was afraid of saying something wrong and the laughter that might follow.

"Once I figured that out, things started to get easier – I just had to make sure I knew more about the topic than anyone else in the room. From then on it only took a few times speaking to get comfortable in front of people. Being able to answer follow-up questions that helped people better understand the topic became almost an adrenaline rush and I began to look forward to finishing the speech just so I could answer the questions."

–Mark, Facebook

11. "I took a public speaking class where they videotaped your speech. At the end, the class critiques you. Not as scary as it seems though because you find yourself giving more positive feedback than negative and it made me feel like I wasn't such a bad speaker."

Linal

13. "I was enlightened when someone told me that 99.9% of the time, the audience is actually rooting for you and no one want to see you fail. They will always be understanding if you stumble. Realising that the audience is not against me has really alleviated my fear. Just be yourself. Everyone stumbles and even if you do make a mistake, it really is NOT a matter of life and death! No one is going to die because you didn't give a perfect speech!"

–Christa, Facebook

14. "Realise you were asked to speak for a reason. You are amazing! Slow down, take deep breaths, smile. If you get asked a question, allow yourself to take a moment before answering. This always works for me!"

Reide

15. "If it's for a class, I always try to go first. Before I speak I look around and realise everyone else is probably nervous about their own speech, so no one will really care if I mess up. And if I do mess up, I'll just laugh about, and make a joke, so everyone can laugh with me (and not at me lol)."

Genevieve

17. "Before I get on the stage or in front of the class, I take off my glasses. Once they are off, I can't see anyone's faces."

–Sofia, Facebook

18. "I hated speaking in front of people, then I learned to play the flute. I played in front of a group larger than any I had to talk in front of before. Having an instrument up there with me made me more confident and it helped me conquer my fear."

Shae

19. "I do a lot of public speaking, and one thing that turns out to be really helpful is to ignore what you're saying. Focus instead on your pace and clarity. Always be thinking ahead."

Mubb

20. "I learned this trick from my favorite professor in college: Have a water bottle or a mug of coffee and as you speak, remember to slow down and take sips from your water bottle to pace yourself. It gives you time to slow down, process your speech, and deliver it while remaining composed and focused!"

–Cody, Facebook

21. "Dance performances really helped me. Every time I messed up, I laughed at myself while still performing. It taught me that mistakes are meant to happen, so laugh and move on."

VIas

22. "The night before a big speech, I'll look up karaoke versions of Disney songs on YouTube and sing my speech notes to the tune. Putting the speech in a silly context really helps."

–Hannah

Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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