Are you afraid of public speaking? You aren’t alone. Overcoming this fear takes time, and many prolific public speakers even say they still get nervous before a speaking engagement. However, with a few simple tips, you can improve your presence and speak in public like a pro.
Prepare to Speak in Public
Before you start worrying about your pants falling down in front of your audience, start by preparing your speech the best way you know how. Think about your topic. Really mull it over for a few days without rushing into research mode. Let the ideas play around your mind without the pressure of writing them down.
Then, once you’re confident in your stance, have an idea of what you want to stay. Start researching and get a basic outline written out. Divide your speech or talk into logical topic breaks and work out the flow of ideas by adding in helpful transitions. Don’t be afraid to deviate from what you started with. Often the best ideas aren’t your first.
Decide if you are going to write your speech word for word and recite it verbatim, or if you want to have some flexibility of word choice. You might just make notes that you can quickly reference on the day of the presentation. You decide what works best for you.
Watch videos of public speakers you admire. Notice how they stand, speak, pause, and look. Try to mimic styles these styles as you practice.
Practice Your Public Speaking
Once you have your speech written, edited, and ready, take as much time as you can to practice. Practice by yourself, practice with a friend, or practice on your dog. Record yourself on your phone so you can see exactly how you look. Get comfortable with your subject matter and the flow of your ideas.
While you are practicing, ask for sincere feedback. Look for help with every aspect of your performance. How was the volume of your voice? What about the pacing? Did your speech flow? Did your audience lose interest at any point in the speech? What brought them back? Be brave enough to listen with an open mind and be willing to make changes.
Ask for what you did well, too! Most of the time, you did better in reality than you think. Ask your audience about their favorite parts of your performance and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.
Present Yourself with Confidence
You’ve prepared and practiced until you are sick of your subject, and the day of delivery has arrived. There are still more steps you can take to be your best. Dress professionally, stand confidently, and talk clearly. Ensure your behavior and content matter are appropriate for your audience. No matter your setting, you should be clean, well groomed, and neatly dressed. Take a few moments before your speech to look at your audience, so you aren’t shocked the moment you stand to deliver. Take a few deep breaths before going on, and then do your best to bury the nerves.
Remember how your favorite speakers looked and use that as a guide. Stand tall and straight, smile, and look directly at your audience. Don’t fidget with any papers you may have. Stand steady with both feet firmly on the floor. Try to be conversational in your mannerisms if it is appropriate, so your audience feels a connection with you.
It’s likely you will need to practice these tips on more than one speech or talk before you feel comfortable with the process, but you can do it! By implementing these strategies, you’ll be sure to overcome your fears.
What tip will you be implementing in your next speaking engagement? Learn more about how you can use your new speaking skills, as well as your other attributes, to serve others in your personal and business life.