How to Improve Your Speaking Skills and Overcome Fear

Being able to speak in public is a very important part of life, and not just for public speakers. Imagine having to give a presentation, being introduced to a new client, or trying to make a big sale. No matter who you are, speaking skills play a huge role in your professional and personal success.

So how can you improve your speaking skills?

  • Speak Up -- Every chance you have, take a moment to speak up and add your voice to the discussion. It doesn't matter if it's in the conference room at work, in a telephone call with your mother, or at a bar with your friends. The more you speak up and add your opinion, the easier it will become to do so.
  • Read on the Topic -- Many great public speakers struggled with shyness and an inability to communicate when they were younger, but simply dealt with it in order to be able to speak in public. If you want to see how they overcame their issues with speaking, read their books. You'll find that reading up on public speaking can help you to find the tools you need to conquer your fear.
  • Always Say "Yes" -- There will be many chances when you will be given the opportunity to speak, but fear will tell you to turn those chances down. Instead, always say "yes" when someone asks you to speak, even if it's something as simple as visiting your child's school on Career Day. The more you speak in public, the easier it will be.
  • Talk to a Therapist -- You may think that therapy is for the weak, but an inability to speak properly in public is a weakness. Spend a few sessions working with a therapist or psychologist, discovering what's holding you back. You'll be able to conquer the fears that stop you from speaking in public once you find out what they are.
  • Practice at Home -- Want to get good at speaking in public? Start speaking in public even when you're home alone. Any time you read something, read it out loud. Practice the right tone of voice and inflection, and polish your presentation. The more you practice, the better you get.
  • Watch TED Talks -- Many people with little or no experience in public speaking attend the TED conferences and get up on stage to speak. How do they do it? Just by doing it! Listen to the way they talk, and realize that it's not as hard as you think. The more TED talks you listen to, the easier it will seem and the more you'll learn from the various speakers taking the stage.
  • Speak to Others -- Got a big speech to make? Ask your spouse or children to sit down and listen, and deliver the speech the same way you would at the event. Ask them for feedback, and listen to their constructive criticism to help improve your speaking skills.
  • Relax -- The more stressed you are, the slower your mind works. Take deep, calming breaths before you get up on stage, and make it a point to slow your speech and your breathing. The more you relax, the easier it will be to speak.

The truth is that the only way to get better at speaking is by doing it, so it's time to break out of your shell and start speaking in public as often as you can!