The Psychology of Fear
Fear is both a physiological challenge and a psychological one. Anything competitive—like sports events, war, or being compared by an audience with other speakers they have already heard— inspires the mobilization of personal resources to succeed. While you are working to improve your physical resilience, you need to also turn to the arena of psychology, emotions, practice, and delivery to build your skills. The more self-confidence you have, the less fear you are likely to experience at the podium.
The best way to avoid a nervous meltdown on stage is to know your topic and what people in the audience need to hear. That starts with as much research as you have time to do.
Every speech should be constructed with the particular audience that will be addressed in mind. The Internet has made doing research on any subject easier than ever, although it does require some time to sort through the choices. Punch in “Indianapolis marketing demographics” and you will get 420,000 hits to consider. The local chamber of commerce, the club president, the teacher of the class, the rabbi who will be introducing you, or the union steward who asked you to speak can give you useful background. Industry publications, city magazines and newspapers, local tourism and business Web sites, and even those who have spoken to the same group before can also be helpful resources.