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Have you ever noticed that a person is always more relaxed when they are talking to just two or three people. But put the same person in front of a large group, and you will have a speaker that is as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. A lot of people get nervous and become shy when it comes to talking in front of, or to a large group of people. But in order to overcome this fear of public speaking, there are a few important things that one needs to understand. The first and foremost thing to remember in this regard is that it is natural for a person to feel nervous and shy, speaking in front of a large group of people. This fear of public speaking can somewhat be attributed to lack of experience speaking in front of people. This anxiety seldom affects those people who indulge in public speaking regularly.

Learning how to maintain your poise, coolness and judgment in times of stress are also some of the things you will learn from public speaking classes. You need to be good in these aspects because questions will usually be directed to you regarding your topics so you need to be armed, cool and have a clear mind all the time. Learning all these from the training in public speaking can help you succeed not only in your career but also gaining your self-confidence which can result in enhancing your personality, relationship with other people and building you a clearer perspective in life. Unfortunately not all people do have the luxury of time in attending public speaking classes or training especially the working people. Therefore, the best way to gain the knowledge in the art of public speaking is hiring a coach or a speech coach for personal speech training purposes.

You can also release some nervous tension by stretching your arms, neck and jaw, rolling your shoulders and clenching and unclenching your fists. Get to your presentation early enough to meet some of the audience members. Then you will have some friends in the audience. As a bonus, you may even get some material to use in your speech! If you lose your breath, you lose your voice. Just prior to speaking, you can do some deep breathing to help calm yourself: breathe in through your nose and fill up your abdomen, hold this breath for 10 seconds and exhale slowly, pushing the air out with your abdomen. Repeat. Take a breath before you speak your first words. While speaking, remember to slow down, pause and take a breath. You can also practice breathing while driving or at bedtime. For most people, speaking one-to-one is less scary than speaking to a group. So, consider the group as composed of individuals and speak to individuals conversationally, making and sustaining eye contact with an individual for a complete thought before moving to another individual. You can practice eye contact when you practice your speech by drawing simple faces on sheets of paper and putting them up in the room as you rehearse. Stuffed animals can work too, although it looks a little silly if someone walks in.

What would you do if the learners in your ESL speaking course are reluctant to stand in front of the class for their public speaking practice? Worse, they believe they have a reason to support their reluctance – shyness. I have been teaching English to ESL and EFL learners for 15 years. This dilemma is nothing new. In fact, I have discovered a very interesting perspective on this issue – the reason for their reluctance. It is not really the “shyness syndrome”, but a long list of excuses and denials. Sometimes, this syndrome can be remedied, and some reduced to an optimum effect. Most interestingly, by mid-semester, learners are often released of this burden. Recently, at the beginning of my public speaking course, I put up a ballot box on my blog to elicit response from the blogging community. My students contribute to the majority of the demography. The prompt reads: What is your biggest problem in public speaking?