Even the most experienced public speakers can get a bit nervous before a presentation. Practice and experience go a long way, but the human body will almost always have a fight-or-flight response to the idea of putting itself up in front of an audience.
There are ways to deal with stage fright that will help you become a better speaker who is more at ease in front of a group. Let’s look at a few.
Before the Event
- – A lot. You don’t need to memorize your speech word for word, but you should be so familiar with the order of your talking points that you don’t need to think about them. You’ll be able to speak more confidently and without notes if you know your main points cold.
- – Test your equipment. Make sure any equipment you’re taking with you is in good condition. Check bulbs, batteries, and any accessories you have. If possible, visit the room you’ll be speaking in and be sure you understand how to connect your equipment to theirs.
The Day Of
- – Spend some time exercising the day of your presentation. Exercise will work off some of the pre-talk jitters and give you confidence by boosting your serotonin levels. If you can’t get in a solid workout that day, try a brisk ten-minute walk. Drinking plenty of water will help stave off dry-mouth, too.
- – Remember Power Posing? Body language is important and taking a powerful stand before your speech can give you a strong, positive mental boost.
- – It’s typically easier to speak to a group of people you know than a room full of strangers. Get to the site early and spend time talking with people who will be in the audience. A friendly face, or several of them, will make your time on in the spotlight much more comfortable. Engaging your audience beforehand also helps keep them focused on you because you are someone they know. It’s much easier to tune out a stranger.
- – If you’re comfortable with it, starting off with a joke is a great way to break the ice. Alternatively, we have talked about beginning a speech with a surprising or interesting fact about your subject. Either of these will peak your audience’s interest and make them want to hear more from you.
- – Make eye contact, especially with the people in the audience who are attentive and indicating their support by smiling, nodding, or appearing especially focused. Their support will boost your comfort level.
- – Act confident, even if you don’t feel that way! Research has shown that appearing confident helps create confidence where it doesn’t exist. In other words, fake it ‘til you make it! The audience will see confidence even if you aren’t feeling.
Most importantly, remember why you are there. It’s not to be the best or most perfect speaker ever. It’s to share some information, make a few points, and encourage others to support your ideas. Leave them with some great ideas and ways to take action, and you will have done your job well!
Let me know how you have gained confidence in your public speaking. I would love to hear about it!
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