6 Challenges of Public Speaking and How to Overcome Them

6 Challenges of Public Speaking and How to Overcome Them

Public speaking is one of the most common tasks people are asked to do at some point in their lives. In school, at work, or even during your birthday party, you will eventually have to face a crowd expecting to hear something funny, inspiring, and downright remarkable from you.

Despite being a typical endeavor, this doesn’t make speaking on stage any less daunting.

Some people (like professional presenters) may seem like they were born with a natural knack for winning over an audience. However, many others find doing it a few times – let alone starting a career out of it – quite daunting.

If you need to speak in public but see it as a difficult task, this article is written especially for you – to help you understand the challenges you’re bound to face in public speaking and how you can deal with those.

Challenge #1: Fear of Public Speaking

This is arguably the most common challenge newbies and even seasoned professionals face in this arena. But while it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous before and during a speech, fear of public speaking is not impossible to overcome.

With solid effort on your part, making speeches in front of an audience might become something you enjoy. Of course, the effort referred to here is thorough preparation.

The more you practice your speech, the less you’ll feel afraid of doing it in front of an audience.

If this isn’t enough, you can also use calming techniques like meditation to make you feel more relaxed on stage. Some apps are available to target your specific anxieties as well.

There’s even one that promises to “hack” your brain using a combination of relaxing meditation and self-hypnosis to make you feel more confident before a speech.

Challenge #2: Audience Engagement

Besides your own (usually unfounded) fears and doubts, you may also find it challenging to engage your audience. This becomes even more apparent if you feel you’ll be talking about a tedious subject.

But here’s what you need to remember: There are no dull subjects, only boring speakers.

When you make a speech, you need to establish an emotional connection with your audience. This is a skill that all effective hosts, orators, and masters of ceremonies have.

Engaging a crowd can be done in many ways, such as through the use of:

  • Humor – Many public speakers consider this the most challenging (and dangerous) way to connect with an audience. If you’re not confident about pulling it off, better try a different route.
  • Analogy – This will only be effective if you understand your audience on a deeper level. You should also know how to speak their language and use industry-specific examples.
  • Case studies – This is great for adding credibility to your speech, but be careful not to make it too long that you’ll lose your audience’s attention.

Besides these, you can also personalize your speech according to your audience’s demographics and use visuals that make a huge impact.

Challenge #3: Going Blank or Waffling

Blame the nerves all you want, but going blank or waffling during a presentation is almost always related to a lack of preparation for a presentation.

Regardless if you’re working as an MC in events or were just assigned this one-time presentation for your company, you must prepare everything you need ahead of time.

To avoid going around in circles, take the primary purpose of your speech and focus on that when checking your draft. You can also jot down important points to help you avoid straying from the subject.

As for blanking out, you have to know that it can happen even to the best presenters out there. There’s no point dwelling on it. What you can do instead is to learn from what happened, forgive yourself, and then move on.

Challenge #4: Interruptions

If there’s one thing worse than a disengaged audience, it’s probably a crowd with people who keep interrupting your presentation.

While it’s quite rare for people to be asked to deliver speeches in overtly hostile environments, this kind of situation can still happen. On the off chance that you do experience this on your next take on the podium, consider the following tips:

  • Never say that you will take questions any time before you start speaking. This tends to invite interruption and can put you off track.
  • Be clear about what you’re doing. Let the audience know if you’re presenting or ready to answer questions.

Remember that you have to manage this in a non-confrontational manner while still getting the point across.

Challenge #5: Speaking Too Fast

When speeches make you nervous, you may feel inclined to speak too fast that your audience can’t keep up. This can also happen without you noticing, especially if you know beforehand that you have limited time to talk about an extensive topic.

But remember this: talking fast will only confuse your audience and make your presentation ineffective.

The key is to pace yourself. Practice your speech in front of a mirror or in front of another person before your time on stage.

You can also try using a metronome app to help you speed up or slow down in just the right moments during your speech.

If you’re short on time, don’t try to cram everything by speaking quicker. Instead, round up the point of your speech concisely and deliver a distinctive ending. Don’t dawdle.

After all, it’s the quality of your speech that matters to the audience and not its length.

Challenge #6: Speaking to an Audience with Different Interests

This isn’t a very rare occurrence, but many presenters still struggle with this.

The thing you have to remember here is that you cannot please everybody. While you can try to adapt your speech to those who don’t like your topic, you cannot possibly do that for every single person in the crowd.

Instead, try to deliver it in a way that your speech becomes interactional. This will help you figure out your audience’s preferences and identify what’s causing the resistance.

From there, you can adjust the content of your presentation to accommodate these, especially if you’re getting a strong feeling that the audience had different expectations from you.

Learn how to connect.

It is also better to make sure that your overall point is understood. Don’t obsess over tiny details to the point that you miss the bigger picture.

Achievement Unlocked

Speaking in public isn’t as dreadful as you think.

Although there are multiple challenges you might face, it is possible to overcome every one of them. Once you’ve unlocked this achievement, you’ll find that public speaking is something you can actually enjoy.


Hisham Wyne is an internationally recognized MC, broadcaster, presenter, and moderator who helps the world’s best-known brands create memorable occasions. He regularly hosts conferences, panel sessions, gala dinners, and award ceremonies for some of the world’s best brands. With 150+ events under his belt, Hisham is the professional speaker that brands and agencies turn to when wanting to interview, engage and entertain government VVIPs and Hollywood celebrities.

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