8 Essential Steps to Overcome Public Speaking Fears
If you are reading this, my guess is because you know that tongue to cotton wool feeling and knees turning into jelly is pretty familiar to you.
Well, there's no need for all of this because I want to help you. Public Speaking was one of my greatest fears and it used to turn a grown woman like me into a nervous wrecks.
#1 . Preparation
Most times, you will receive the questions before your event and even if you don’t, you should still run this process. Sit down to write what you're going to say, bear in mind who you'll be speaking to. Will they understand what you're talking about? Will they understand the technical stuff and the jargon? If in doubt remember the old saying - "Keep It Simple Stupid".
Make sure that what you plan to say has a beginning, middle and an end. Think of some anecdotes that help reinforce your story. People think visually, so plan to paint verbal pictures for your audience, and always remember, people want to know what's in it for them - so make sure you tell them!
#2 . Place
Have a look at the venue personally before the event if you can. It's not always possible, however, even if you get there half an hour before, you can check out where you'll be speaking. You can also run a search on Google and find the venue images to give you a sense of what the atmosphere is going to be like.
#3 . Personal Preparation
Before your Public Speaking event, think about what you are going to wear. Here’s what I always go for: when in doubt dress up rather than down. You can always take things off for a more casual look. Men could
remove their jacket and their tie. Women could remove items of jewelry.
Part of your personal preparation should include some mouth and breathing exercises. Practice saying some tongue twisters to give your speaking muscles a good work out. Take a deep breath and expand your diaphragm. Then breathe out, counting at the same time; try and get up to fifty and not
#4 . Poise and Posture
Whenever you're called to speak, pull yourself up to your full height, stand tall or sit down straight and look like you own the place. Before you start to speak, pause, look round your audience and smile. You may even have to wait until the applause dies down. Remember, you want the audience to like you, so look
#5 . Pretend
I'm suggesting you pretend you're not nervous because no doubt you will be. Nervousness is vital for speaking in public, it boosts your adrenaline, which makes your mind sharper and gives you energy.
The trick is to keep your nerves to yourself. On no account tell your audience your nervous; you'll only scare the living daylights out of them if they think you're going to faint.
Some tricks for dealing with nerves are:
Before you're called to speak, get lots of oxygen into your system, run on the spot and wave your arms about like a lunatic. It burns off the stress chemicals.
Speak to members of your audience as they come in or at some time before you stand up. That tricks your brain into thinking you're talking to some friends.
Have a glass of water handy for that dry mouth.
#6 . The Presentation
Right from the start your delivery needs to grab your audience’s attention.
Don't start by saying - "Good morning, my name is Sophia Smith and I'm from Smith Associates." Even if your name is Smith, it's a real boring way to start a presentation. Far better to start with some interesting
facts or an anecdote that's relevant to your presentation.
Look at the audience as individuals; it grabs their attention if they think you're talking to them personally.
Talk louder than you would normally do, it keeps the people in the front row awake and makes sure those at the back get the message. Funnily enough, it's also good for your nerves.
#7 . Passion
This is what stops the audience in their tracks. This is what makes them want to employ you or to accept what you're proposing. Couple this with some energy, enthusiasm and emotion and you have the makings of a great public speaker.
Give your presentation a bit of oomph and don't start telling me - "I'm not that kind of person." There's no need to go over the top but you're doing a presentation to move people to action, not having a cosy little chat in your front room.
#8 . Quit
Quit when you're ahead. Stick to the agreed time; if you're asked to speak for twenty minutes, speak for nineteen and the audience will love you for it. Remember, quality is not quantity.
Following these 8 simple steps will help you minimize the fear of Public Speaking and make it so much easier and do it a whole lot better.