To Overcome Fear of Public Speaking, You need to Understand the Underlying Causes To Overcome Fear of Public Speaking, You need to Understand the Underlying Causes. Once you can identify the causes that are underlying your public speaking nerves and fear, you can choose the strategies you need to build your confidence, use the fear and present successfully. Most people suffer from some fear of public speaking. The survey that identified it as America’s number one fear was accurate then and remains so today. But the causes of that fear can differ from person to person. One of the most important steps towards overcoming the fear of public speaking is to identify the things in your life that have created the fear and then choose the strategies that relate to those causes and that will conquer the fear and allow you to harness it to enhance your presentations and speeches, not destroy them. So let’s list some of the factors that underlie the fear of public speaking and see which ones apply to you. 1. The first on the list is the fact that fear of public speaking can run in families. I’m not sure if there is a genetic cause for this but I do know that if you have seen your parents or a family member speaking or performing confidently in public, then you will most likely see it as something you can do too. But if you see fear and aversion to public speaking then you will probably adopt that as part of your culture as well. 2. The second factor lies in the way your brain functions. It may be that your brain is not functioning in a way that builds confidence. It is possible that the neurotransmitters that allow your brain to transfer information are not operating as they should. 3. Previous personal experience can affect our confidence in any situation. Teasing of any sort can destroy confidence and if it was associated with public speaking then any chance of future confidence in public speaking will be shattered. Thoughtlessly expressed criticism can do the same. A teacher, peer or parent can destroy confidence with unthinking negative comments. 4. Beliefs. Many people’s fear of public speaking is founded in the belief that they are responsible for always creating a positive impression … and its corollary that if they do not create this wonderful impression then they have created a disaster. Your family, your peers and your associates, not to mention the media, can all contribute to this expectation of any situation. So if you feel an unreal demand on you in terms of the need to create a great impression then anything you do in public will be fraught with anxiety. 5. Because people fear public speaking they then set up systems to avoid it. Any opportunity is met with avoidance, rather than either a positive expectation, or a confident attempt that could be the basis of development. And then that avoidance becomes a habit – it self- perpetuates. So ... did any of those scenarios strike a chord with you and your experiences? Did you recognise any of them acting in your life? It may even be that more than one of these factors is present in creating your fear of public speaking. Rest assured, though, that for each, there are strategies that can be used to overcome it. Use them in conjunction with some other processes and you have a strong, guaranteed basis for developing confidence and skill in public speaking. Bronwyn Ritchie is a speaker, writer, librarian and trainer and she manages Pivotal Points - resources for the times in your life when you pivot - change direction - towards a better you, a better life. For more information - on public speaking - resources, tips, articles and courses to help you overcome your fears and to polish your presentations - visit http://www.consultpivotal.com/public_speaking.htm.