Public speaking is a legitimate fear for individuals of all ages. Giving presentations, speeches, or other activities that require speaking in front of a large group of people, can present anxiety, and prove to be rather difficult for many people. However, there are many tools that one can use to overcome fears and strengthen public speaking skills. Here are a few tips to reduce that public speaking anxiety.
Break It Down
When you’re preparing your speech or presentation, break the whole thing down into manageable steps. Outline your intro, the points of your speech, and the conclusion. Write down each part separately, then put it all together. Cut or add what you need so you don’t run over your allotted time.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The adage goes, “practice makes perfect” and it’s completely true. Rehearse your speech or presentation. Do it in front of your bathroom mirror or in your bedroom at first. Hearing the speech out loud will help you figure out what needs tweaking. Then practice your speech with a close friend or relative, someone you trust to give constructive feedback.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Perfectionism is a hard concept for a lot of people to break. We don’t want to show others that we’re not as put together as we should be. Here’s a hint: nobody else is expecting you to be perfect. Even if you flub a word here or there, keep going. Chances are, no one is going to notice.
Engage With Your Audience
Don’t read your speech off word for word and don’t memorize. You’ll end up with a presentation sounding wooden and false. Instead, engage with your audience like you would a friend over coffee. Step away from the podium. Ask questions, invite them to clap or raise hands. All of these things will help to connect with your audience and reduce any nervousness.
Most of all, don’t forget to breathe. Deep breathing exercises have been found to slow the heart rate and reduce stress. Even taking a few deep, slow breaths before you start your speech will give you time to gather your thoughts.
Public speaking can cause a lot of stress and fears. However, you can side-step most of the stress with a bit of preparation and ways to keep yourself grounded and relaxed. Just breathe, step away from the podium, and give it all you got!