How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

By Jelle Dams, Fundraiser 2020-2021

Hi guys, my name is Jelle Dams and I am this year’s Fundraiser for the TEIMUN Board. In this blogpost I would like to discuss the fear of public speaking, something I have also struggled with myself. I think it is very relevant for both events that we at TEIMUN organize, as it might be decisive in whether or not you some people sign up for our events. In addition, I will try to give some tips that have worked for me which might help you.

Anyways, a little background information on me. I am a Dutch guy who lived in the United States for eight years at various stages of my life, as a small child and a pre-teen. Therefore, I am essentially bilingual, but because I moved so much I never got entirely fluent in either Dutch or English. I think this is one of the main reasons I was always horrible at public speaking in middle and high school, as I was never confident enough to effectively communicate exactly what I wanted to. In addition, I never knew what to do with my hands while speaking. One of the comments I got on one after my high school presentations was that I spoke and moved like how a weatherman presents the weather. What does not help either is that I get nervous fast and therefore speak at an accelerated pace. I assume that a certain segment of readers can relate to these struggles. However, as I got older I got better at public speaking by trying various techniques.

Firstly, what has worked for me has been to try some breathing techniques. As I mentioned earlier, I tend to speak fast and get nervous quick. Before speaking I would try some breathing exercises and try to get the nerves under control. This would help immensely in my speaking pace and take the edge off a bit when I finally needed to speak.

Tip: Do two or three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Secondly, what do you do with your hands while speaking? I think this is one of the most discussed subjects when discussing the subject. My tip is not to overthink it, as overthinking makes you realize you actually do have to think about your hands.

Tip: Take a pen or pencil and hold it to stop your hands from moving. Also, you can use your hands to emphasize certain points and are a powerful tool do so.

Lastly, don’t overthink it! I think one of the main problems is that people get stuck in an endless circle of ‘what ifs’. What if I fail? What if I misspeak? What if I forgot all my text? I think these ‘what ifs’ hold you back from actually achieving what you want. These make you nervous and are not necessary. If you are prepared, you did your best and essentially know what you want to say. Even though it might not always go the way you planned, you should accept that its okay to make mistakes and it is a valuable lesson to learn. Practice makes perfect!

Tip: Attend the Society sessions, they give you all sorts of tips and tricks on how to speak as an MUN pro – plus, they are a lot of fun.

I look forward to meeting all of you at our conferences!