Fear of Public Speaking – Follow These Ten Tips
Fear of public speaking is a common phobia. Sleepless nights, sweaty palms, and an upset stomach are just some of the symptoms of public speaking anxiety that cause people to shy away from the stage. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting to two people or to 250 people, when public speaking anxiety strikes, you need strategies to manage your anxiety so you can go on to the stage with confidence, poise, and professionalism.
Here are 10 tips to manage public speaking anxiety and get over fear of public speaking:
1. Know your topic.
If you’re already a subject matter expert, reviewing your topic for proper structure is key to success. What do you want your audience to think, feel, and know as a result of your speech? If you are not an expert on the content, researching well before your presentation will give you the confidence you need to deliver as an expert.
2. Know your audience.
Call your host ahead of time to find out the demographics. Who typically attends the presentation? What are their titles? How much do they know about your topic . . . how much do they need to know? Greet them at the door, and get to know them as they arrive. This goes a long way to reducing anxiety, because you can gain valuable tips about them in a short time.
3. Practice your opening two or three statements ahead of time.
Be careful not to memorize any lines though; your audience wants to see you thinking. If you’re like me, and you’re prone to memorization, practice your opening statements in several different ways so it’s fresh when you start your speech. Know this: If you deliver your opening statements with confidence, you’re on your way to successful delivery.
4. Let your personality shine.
Some people tell me that they’re introverts, and they believe this hinders them. Not true at all. If you’re shy about being on stage, your audience will love you all the more for it – as long as you are your true, authentic self.
5. Take a Power Pose.
This simple strategy can be used to reduce anxiety and build your confidence in a very short time. My personal definition is to simply plant your feet, about hip length apart, deep breath in, then slowly exhale.
We all know the difference between sounding nervous and sounding confident. Use deep breathing to project your voice across a large room. Keep your chest steady and think about breathing into your stomach as you take in a breath. Then exhale slowly, like letting the air out of a balloon.
7. Eye Contact.
As I step on to the stage, I make eye contact with a friendly face in the audience before speaking. I do this as I strike my power pose. This combination relaxes me and gives me a sense of control.
It’s hard for some speakers to realize how often they utter, “Uhm” during their presentation, but the audience hears it. And it’s distracting them from your intended message. Practice a silent pause instead of saying “Uhm.” You’ll be doing the audience a favor because they need time to digest and process everything you’re telling them.
Walking with purpose gives us a sense of control and confidence. Some movement on stage is expected. Too much is a distraction. Learn to use purposeful walking to signal that you’re arriving at an important point in your speech.
Try to do as much planning in advance of your speech. Know your audience; know your topic; know the layout of the room, and know your multi-media. Also, visualize anything that might go wrong and then develop scenarios for how you will handle the situation.
Being slightly anxious before a speech gives us the energy we need to perform well.
Marianne Gooch is a business leader, management consultant, and public speaker who helps business leaders become more effective communicators with speech coaching, speech writing, and presentation/media training. DynaComm is a 100% woman-certified and owned business with headquarters in Houston, Texas. http://www.dynacommllc.com/