Do you get nervous, agitated and maybe hyperventilate when asked to to give a speech or present something? Did you know that the #1 fear in the world is Public Speaking! It is also known as Glossophobia and It’s estimated that 75% of people suffer from speech anxiety, making it one of the most common phobias that exist. This within itself should reduce your anxiety knowing that you’re not alone and that it’s a common fear globally.
Another essential factor you should consider is that your perception of Public Speaking is crucial to your success. If you think that Public Speaking is a talent or you believe that it’s a skill, it will ultimately affect your progress into becoming a better public speaker.
Here are a few tips that have helped me personally.
Define your fear – once you unveil the mystery you will be able to pinpoint the areas of improvement you need to tackle. Carve sometime and sit with a paper & pen (or however you wish to write down a list) and think of the last time you were asked to stand up and say something. Get in that state of mind and write down every emotional trigger that crosses your mind, what exactly you were feeling, what made you scared or nervous. Once you write down the list you will KNOW and really pinpoint your fear and start working towards building your skills for each point and hopefully abating or eliminating your fears.
Prepare your material (if it’s a planned presentation) – preparation is key, if you don’t prepare the material yourself or if you’re not involved in each and every step, the likelihood that you will freeze at some point is high. So really KNOW your material inside out.
Don’t memorize it verbatim – It is really important that you don’t memorize your presentation, you can fully script it, but don’t memorize it verbatim for two reasons:
If you memorize it verbatim, you run the likelihood of forgetting something (even minor) which will throw you off completely to the rest of the speech and increase your anxiety and stress.
If you memorize it verbatim you run the risk of not being emotionally present with your words and expressing your speech passionately because you are very focused on remembering each word.
Practice, Practice, Practice - I don’t have to tell you that “practice makes perfect” so constantly practice your speech. Here is a list of what to consider when you practice:
Practice in front of a camera – record yourself and see here you can improve
Practice your speech by presenting it differently it every time, change how you say the same point in various way. This will help your muscle memory recall one of the ways your practiced instead of getting stuck with one phrase that might not be recalled.
Practice in front of an audience of friends and family if possible
Practice your enunciation, body language, breathing & movement
If possible, practice on location prior speech/ presentation day
Don’t be afraid to pause – you don’t have to fill every second with words, don’t be afraid to pause to avoid the “ammms” and “emms”. Pausing also helps your audience absorb the information you’re sharing; it can play a very crucial part in your speech. Use it to your advantage.
Don’t be afraid to ask for water– if you feel that your mouth gets dry ask for water before your speech and keep it with you. Take a few sips (slowly) every now and again to keep you calm and gather your thoughts.
Mingle to reduce stress - prior to your speech or presentation, mingle with audience and have a chat with a few people, this will help you get comfortable and distress.
Breathe and tell yourself – 2 minutes prior to speech in a private location (office, bathroom, backstage) take a Superhero Stance, head held high, chest open, hands on hips, elbows bent, legs slightly apart. This stance projects power and confidence. Stand like this for 2 minutes and breath deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
And say to yourself “I can do this $h*%”
And you will. I hope you find these tips helpful and again “Practice makes perfect” indeed.