Public speaking is the number one fear in America, even before death, which is at number 5. It is crazy to think that we are more afraid of looking bad in front of others than dying. But there are ways to help overcome public speaking! Check out my tips below:
1. Know Your Information
When you get a topic to present on in class or at work, do as much research as possible. The more information you have, the better your presentation will be. Also, when you know what you are talking about, you won’t be as nervous as if you are underprepared.
2. Practice Over and Over and Over
Practice makes perfect. Some people find it helpful to practice in front of family members or friends. Others, like myself, find it helpful to practice in front of a mirror. When you rehearse, you train yourself on how the presentation is going to flow. Then, when it is time to do it for real, you are prepared and will remember how you said and explained certain points.
3. Make Note Cards
Note cards can be very helpful, but sometimes people will write out full sentences and end up reading off the card. Try putting key words in bullet points that you can refer to instead. This way, you know what the main points are and you can elaborate on them more naturally.
4. Stay Organized
This is especially important when you have a lot of information to cover and are using note cards. Keep the information in chronological order so that the audience can follow. Also, number your note cards so that you won’t confuse yourself!
5. Make an Attractive PowerPoint
Besides the fact that I love making creative slides, I’ve discovered that when the slides are colorful with good information, the audience tends to spend a good amount of time looking at them. This makes me feel better because I give them something else to look at besides me. But do not put too much information on one slide. It will look cluttered and the audience will end up reading it instead of listening to you.
6. Take Deep Breaths
When you focus on your breathing, you will become more relaxed. If you have a habit of speaking too fast, focus on taking pauses in between sentences to keep yourself calm.
7. Don’t think about the Audience’s Reactions
Think about yourself in the audience’s position. They are there to listen to the information being given. There will always be someone in the crowd who looks tired or bored, but don’t take it personally.
8. Record Yourself
Although it seems weird, actually watching your performance can help you see what you can improve on. It is also good to get used to hearing what your voice sounds like on tape.
9. Don’t Try to Hide Your Fear
Those who try to hide the fact that they are nervous, tend to avoid certain things that make them anxious during a presentation. For example, they avoid eye contact with the audience or talk too fast. When this happens, you tend to focus on your own thoughts, which then may get jumbled. Own the role of the “Speaker” to make it the best you can. Remember, it is not going to last forever.
10. “Power Pose”
Power posing is when you stand in front of a mirror and hold your arms up, making yourself as big as possible. Or you can stand with your legs apart and fists on your hips, like you have all the power in the world. You can even yell some encouraging words like, “I am strong! I got this! I am ready!”
Public speaking is something you can definitely overcome. It just takes time, practice, and dedication. You got this!