Did you know that research shows that about 80% of us suffers from speech anxiety. That translates into the astounding fact that the fear of public speaking is among the most common phobias. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true.
You may feel like you’re pretty confident when speaking to others or you may experience complete stage fright, either way, we’ve all experienced the pre-talk jitters when we’re about to make a presentation or speak to a group of people. Public speaking can be a little overwhelming. Even the most collected among us can get a little out of sorts at the thought of standing up and having something riveting or important to say.
If this is you, you’re in luck. Here are our top tips to help calm the rumble in your belly and clear the frog from your throat, so that you can speak with poise and confidence.
Create your own calming ritual
You may have a lucky suit that you like to wear when you’ll speaking to others. Or there may be a song that gets you pumped just before starting a talk. These things shouldn’t be tagged as coincidence. Rituals and routines are a great way to calm yourself when you have a case of the nerves.
Maybe it’s time to start planning ahead. Creating a calming ritual for yourself before each speaking engagement. You may incorporate saying affirmations, slow breathing, or even a half glass of wine. The most important thing is that you create a routine of actions that help you to center yourself and get over that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach before you begin.
Practice really can make perfect. No, I’m not being cliche. In this instance, this sentiment holds a lot of weight. If you want to look polished and on top of your game when speaking to a crowd… practice.
You may be envisioning yourself repeating your speech verbatim while standing in front of the bathroom mirror using your fist as a makeshift microphone. Don’t over complicate the process. Try reviewing your talking points several times in different locations and environments. Get comfortable with the subject matter more than the reciting of words or phrases you’ve memorized.
The more familiar you are with the topic and any supporting details you want to cover, the more articulate you’ll sound – no matter how uncomfortable you are. Practice until it comes naturally. You’ll begin to uncover areas that need to be beefed up or removed altogether. You’ll know which parts of the speech you’re stumbling through and which parts flow easily. Practicing helps you to take your speech from sounding robotic to being compelling and interesting for the audience.
Tip: Record yourself during a practice speech. Pay attention to how you move and how what you’re saying will be heard by the attendees. This will help you with your technique, non-verbal queues, and making tweaks to the way you’re phrasing your sentences.
The same way you need to pay attention to the how fast your speaking, you also need to pay close attention to what your body language is communicating. Try making eye contact with specific attendees instead of gazing out into the blue while you’re speaking. You’ll come across as more confident and engaged during your talk.
Don’t start talking as you’re walking to your position on the stage or platform. You don’t want to get winded or distracted because you’re not yet oriented. This is your moment. It’s important that you are collected and cool not rushing and all over the place. Be intentional. Walk to the spot where you feel most comfortable, stand flat-footed, take a breath, smile… and start.
Leave time for questions
You should always leave sufficient time at the end of the presentation to allow for questions from the audience. This time allows people to dig deeper into the subject matter or clear up any confusion they may have with what you’ve said.
It’s also an opportunity to expand upon your talking points in a more comfortable dialogue-driven setting. Difficult questions can also shed light on information that you may want to add to or remove from your talking points in the future.
If you’re asked (or you prefer) to include a visual presentation, make sure that it looks professional. Nothing screams amateur more than an unprofessional presentation. Think about a website, presentation, or graphic that you’ve seen recently. What about it caught your attention? Was it clean in layout or vibrant in color?
The idea is to have a visual aid that bolsters your speech not distract from it. If you’re not well versed in presentation software make use of available resources. Research programs that make it easy like Prezy, Microsoft PowerPoint or even look into presentation theme templates with google presentation themes.
Tip: Offer to email the attendees a link to the presentation in exchange for their email address and build your mailing list, while sharing your genius with others!
Public speaking can be nerve-wracking. Don’t allow anxiety and maybe even a little fear to get in the way of you giving a stellar talk. Use these tips to get yourself together and then go out there and kill it!
Have you ever found yourself nervous about public speaking? What did you do to make yourself feel and appear calm, cool, and collected?