How I Overcame the Fear of Public Speaking

September 19, 2014 11:48 AM

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How I Overcame the Fear of Public Speaking

Several years ago, I was invited to give my first public speech, and I made the mistake of saying yes. I was terrified: as a student, my heart used to race at the mere thought of raising my hand in class. For weeks beforehand, I had nightmares about forgetting my lines, waking up in a cold sweat. No matter how much I practiced, for the three days leading up to the speech, I could hardly breathe.

1. Don't try to calm down. In clever research, Harvard professor Alison Wood Brooks asked people to give a public speech on what would make them good colleagues. Anxiety alert: they would be videotaped and evaluated by a committee. More than 90 percent of people said the best strategy was to calm do...

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