Help, I Have to Give a Speech!
If the surveys are to be believed, people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death! But don’t worry- speaking in front of other people, whether at work or at a wedding reception doesn’t have to be hard or scary.
We have put together a few simple tips to enhance your skills, ease your mind, and help you get over your fear of public speaking.
Fear of Public Speaking Tips
- Be prepared. One of the best ways to keep your nerves at bay is practice. Know your speech well. Start with a script and move to a few notes as you learn the material. Practice whenever possible.
- Focus on your supporters. Put your attention on the people in the audience who are paying attention and engaged with you. They’ll be smiling and nodding. Make a real connection and keep going back to those people for confirmation and support.
- Mentally rehearse your speech. Envision yourself performing confidently and competently. Imagine that you’re doing a great job and receive a standing ovation at the conclusion. Are guests dabbing their eyes becasue of a sweet story you told or doubled over laughing because of a particularly funny memory? Do this twice each day until your presentation. It’s not enough to perform this exercise once or twice.
- Focus on providing something to your audience. If you make your presentation about your audience, instead of yourself, you’ll be more confident. Do your best for them. They’ll notice your effort.
- Listen to music. Have you ever noticed that professional athletes are often wearing headphones before the big game? The right music can calm your nerves and strengthen your confidence. Listen to your favorite music before taking the stage. We like to call this the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ effect.
- Include the audience. The more you can include the audience or rely on visual aids, the less stress you’ll feel. Share the load by making your talk more interactive.
- Distract yourself. When you’re feeling nervous five minutes before showtime, play a mental game to distract yourself. You can count backward from 1,000 by 7’s or recite the alphabet backwards. Try to remember the names of your elementary school teachers or list all the places you’ve ever worked in chronological order. Keep your mind busy.
- Keep notes available. Even if you’ve practiced your speech successfully 50 times without notes, have notes with you. One mental block can derail your entire speech if you fail to get back on track. Even a single notecard can be sufficient.
- Use the restroom. Ten minutes before your presentation, empty your bladder and enjoy the solitude. Take a seat, close your eyes, and try to relax. Take a few deep breaths and listen to your music in peace. You have time. Avoid feeling rushed.
- Remember that you don’t look nervous. Every speaker is more nervous than they appear. No matter how nervous you feel, you look fine. The audience thinks you look confident.
Every public speaker is forced to deal with nervousness. Public speaking is challenging, but it’s a respected skill. Public speaking is much easier when your anxiety is under control. Practice these proven strategies and speak with confidence.