Speaking in public, to groups of people, can be a psychologically scary and intimidating experience to anticipate. This is natural - human beings, as sentient creatures, are highly self-aware, and in social situations especially. These feelings are amplified when we sense ourselves as the target of attention of a group of people.
However, public speaking is a skill that can be honed with practice and experience, and is a highly practical one at that. Consider some of history's greatest figures - in large part they are often hailed as great orators, able to appeal to a large number of people through their speeches. Public speaking can therefore be viewed as an art or a technique, to which there are important principles to keep in mind.
Dissipate Hyper Self-consciousness.
In speaking in or to the public, many people become too self-conscious in trying to appear as a great speaker. This attempt leads to distraction - we are focused on too many things at once - ourselves, the group, how we think the group perceives us - and this scatter-mindedness will carry over into the speaking itself.
Nerves, anxiety, and anticipation can all contribute to this effect. Therefore, it is vital that we remain calm and collected while in the spotlight. This can be achieved through relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. In doing so, we gain control over our scattered minds and gain focus on the task of speaking itself.
Try Not To Be A Perfectionist
To err is human. It is completely normal and natural to make a mistake while speaking - and can throw you off course if you suddenly recognize it and become embarrassed. The best thing to do when a speaking mistake is made is to simply keep talking.
Unless it was confusing or politically incorrect, there is usually no need to apologize to the audience, or in any other way draw attention to it. Chances are, most people did not even notice, and even if they did, as you keep talking, they will move past it with you.
Practice Makes Perfect
Not all people are born with an innate power to speak to the public. In fact, most aren't. Instead, we must rely on the adage that practice makes perfect. The more that you speak in public, the more comfortable it will become.
By becoming familiar with it, and becoming more successful with it, public speaking will become a natural act with little anxiety or anticipation surrounding it. Practice public speaking activities in front of friends and family, ask for feedback, and then try it all over again. The goal is to act and look natural and at ease - immediate cues of confidence - which lends credence to what ideas we are trying to get across in the first place.
Speak For Others
One way to hack the fear surrounding public speaking is to make it about the audience instead of you. If you can find a way to turn the spotlight onto others, appealing to people's natural sense of compassion, you will find that you become more at ease yourself.
Simply going into a public speaking event with the intention to help others learn something new is a completely novel experience and one that makes it rewarding and fulfilling.
Remember that it is completely natural to feel uneasy about getting up in front of a group of people to speak. Do not further feelings of fear and frustration by trying to push this natural fact away. Instead, try to be mindful and accepting of your feelings, and have compassion for yourself the same way that another person would have for you. In accepting, we find peace, and with peace, we gain a level of confidence, credibility, and ease that is palpable to the audience we are appealing to.