An average person ranks the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death. The truth is, this fear could be hurting your professional and personal life. Unless you’re a gregarious extrovert, you feel nervous, your palms sweat, and your stomach ties itself into knots before speaking to a group or getting up in front of the audience.
The fear of public speaking is very real. However, there are techniques to help you overcome your fear. There are even ways to help harness your energy in a positive way.
When you organize all your thoughts and material it helps you to become much more relaxed and calm. When you have clear, organized thoughts it can greatly reduce your anxiety and fear of public speaking because you can better focus on the one thing at hand, giving a great speech.
Practice, Practice & Practice
Nothing takes the place of practicing and preparing for your speech. Write out a script of your key points, but don’t read from the script word for word. Prepare for your speech so well that you could answer any possible question thrown at you.
Give your speech to another person
There are plenty of people you can practice on. Be sure to tell the person to be completely honest with you in their critique.
Examples of people you can practice on:
- Your friends
- Your parents
- Your girlfriend/wife
- Your boyfriend/husband
PowerPoint- Make or break
Sometimes, having a PowerPoint can be your best friend. It can help you if you lose your train of thought, keep your audience engaged, and give people a good place to grab notes and main points from. However, do not put paragraphs on one slide.
Focus on the material, not the audience
Focus on delivering your material in the best way possible. Don’t worry about audience reactions.
Keep a check on the rate of speech
Talking fast during a speech interferes with your breathing patterns. If you talk too fast you will breathe less. Feeling short of breath will make you panicked and more susceptible to fear. Practice slowing down when you speak, and you will be more calm and relaxed.
Practice in front of a mirror
If time and money are issues, there’s always the free mirror in your bathroom. Start with simply smiling at yourself. You’d be surprised by how hard that is for some people. Make eye contact with yourself. See? You’re doing great.
Watch for feedback and adapt to it
Keep the focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.