If you are terrified of public speaking, you’re not alone. As many as 75 per cent of people have a severe fear of public speaking. In fact, studies have shown that people are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of dying!
Unfortunately, though, there comes a time in everyone’s life when they need to speak in front of a group of people. You may have to give a toast at a wedding or speak in front of a room full of clients.
Whatever the occasion, you have to combat your fear of public speaking so you can avoid the shakes, cracking voice, and sweaty palms that associate with high anxiety.
Pick a Subject That You’re Passionate About
If you have to speak in public, be sure to choose a topic, talking points or examples that you’re both knowledgeable and passionate about. A familiar topic will go a long way in quelling those nerves. What’s more, most people enjoy speaking about the things they love. This will help you to connect with the subject matter, and you’ll feel more confident about what you’re saying.
Prepare and Get Organised
The more prepared you are, the less anxious you will be. Don’t start off trying to write an entire speech from scratch. Instead, compile and organise your thoughts and talking points on note cards. Lay out the cards in the order that makes the most sense and use it as a template or outline to write your speech. Once your speech is written, be sure to write it neatly on note cards so you can refer to it during your presentation.
Practise Your Speech Extensively
If you practise enough, you will be able to give your speech on autopilot even if your nerves try to get the best of you the day of your presentation. In addition to reading the speech aloud to yourself, practice in front of the mirror and a live audience. If you don’t have any friends or family available, take a video of yourself giving your speech and watch it. When you notice issues, be sure to tweak your speech, facial expressions, or tone of speech to correct them.
Take a Public Speaking Course
If you haven’t a clue how to write and present a speech, a course on public speaking might be the answer you’re looking for. A course will allow you to explore public speaking with a group of individuals who have the same goals as you. It will also give you the opportunity to write and give speeches in front of an audience. The feedback you receive in such a course can also prove to be invaluable.
Tamp Down Nervousness
Do not allow yourself to get too nervous. Whenever you start to worry about your speech, focus your energy elsewhere. Activities that engage the mind, such as puzzles, games, and writing, work best. If you can combat this before the day of the presentation, it may do wonders for you.
Pay Attention to Your Breathing
If you’re like most people, you take quick, shallow breaths when you’re anxious. This unconscious habit can actually make you feel more nervous. The key is to take deep, even breaths. Take the opportunity to practice breathing slowly before you get on stage, and pay attention to your breathing while you’re giving your speech.
Don’t Expect Perfection
If you’ve never given a speech before, you can’t expect perfection. Give yourself a break and overlook any mistakes you may make during your presentation. Chances are that the audience won’t even notice your mistakes anyway. Don’t make perfection the goal. Instead, strive to give a coherent speech that the audience will enjoy.
Don’t Stress Over the Script
If you skip a word or a sentence, don’t stress out. You don’t have to recite your speech word-for-word. If you lose your place, keep moving forward. Granted, keeping going without a script is so much easier if you pick a subject that you know and if you practise a lot before giving your speech.
Think about Using Slides
Slide presentations may give you something to concentrate on other than your words and your anxiety. They can also help you keep your place. If you believe that it will help to have a visual presentation to go along with your speech, do not hesitate to use one.
Don’t Pay Attention to the Audience
Of course, the audience is going to be there, but you don’t have to pay attention to them. Give your speech just as you did when you practiced it and ignore the people in front of you. It will help you relax.
The first few minutes of any speech is the worst part. When you get further into the speech, you will notice that your anxiety starts to subside. All you have to do is get through the first few minutes by using the tips above.