Factors That Cause Public Speaking Anxiety

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
-Maya Angelou

Public speaking is a massive part of being a leader in transferring difficult conversations and ideas into simple, relevant stories. Taking a higher-level approach, bringing a bigger picture to the table, causing unity in an effort, and setting up success with teams that are sold out for what you are trying to preach and communicate are reliable tools for leaders. 

Meeting people where they are is a soft skill that new leaders will need in the future and at once now. Employees expect leaders that show vulnerability, commonality, and listen to understand. Preaching might have been too hard of a word. Listening up, understanding, and communicating a companywide passion might be a better way to write it. So, in the following few chapters, I will discuss public speaking, anxiety, personal image, how to overcome some hurdles, and tips and tricks for better public speaking for your leadership skill set and toolbox.

Leaders of today and the future are different from leaders in the past. Waterfall approaches leave people disconnected and not sold on ideas. Talking down is own. Listening up is in. Leaders that can get into the weeds, fight a good fight on the ground with their teams, and show that they can do the work along with the knowledge will excel. Even if you are a leader of a massive corporation, leading by listening and speaking in powerful small bursts with heart is an impressive skill that will help your career and those around you and profit the company for long-term success.

In a survey by Dr. Laurie Rozakis, author of Idiots Guide to Public Speaking, it was found that many people are scared to speak before a group. It is the number one fear among Americans, " and the number 6 is fear of death," according to Dr. Rozakis.

Even the most experienced speaker gets anxious speaking in public. However, this fear can be controlled, so you can use your anxiety to your advantage. This topic teaches us why people are nervous when speaking in front of a crowd and how you can conquer your fear.

Fear of the Audience

People are afraid of rejection by their audience. Thus, people are terrified of speaking in public for fear of being criticized by the crowd for how they look or deliver their speech. On the contrary, audiences understand the speaker's problem with stage fright. You become more nervous when your fear of the audience increases.

Below are strategies to help you overcome your fear of the audience.

> Choose a topic that you like and you familiar with. The more comfortable you are about your chosen topic, the more confident you are in facing your audience.

> Concentrate on your case. Focus on your case and not on yourself. Your fear of speaking decreases when you think of your subject matter and not yourself.

> Say to yourself: "I am the BOSS." Trust in your capability to deliver your speech. Showing you are in charge reduces your fear and increases your confidence in facing the situation.

> Don't think of your audience as a threat. Bridge the gap between your audience and yourself. Analyze carefully to set up a rapport. It would help if you considered age, gender, and ability level. Remember to analyze your audience.


There are two ways to win over your fear of failure.

> Picture yourself succeeding. You will falter if you think you will stutter in front of people. But if you visualize yourself delivering your speech well, you will.

> Face your fear. You cannot overcome your fear unless you show it and admit that you are afraid of it.


> Write well. Take time to write your speech. Review it and rewrite it if necessary. If you are confident with your speech, you will be less terrified about speaking in public.

> Practice and ask for suggestions on how you can improve your speech. Ask a friend or compare to function as your audience. Once you have delivered your topic, ask for their feedback. Do not be afraid to hear about what they will say. Their feedback can give insight into your speech's good or bad.