We all know that the ability to give a public speech is one of the most valued business skills today. And yet most people report that giving a speech is their number one phobia.
These are 10 essential tips to get over your nervousness, to speak confidently and to deliver a great public speaking.
1. Expect to be nervous
Even experienced speakers get nervous. Instead of trying to eliminate your jitters, turn them into energy you can use to boost your delivery.
Know what you are going to say – and why you want to say it.
Speak to supportive audiences in small forums where less is at stake – at a staff meeting or a PTA meeting.
In the thirty seconds before you begin speaking, take three slow, deep breaths through your nose, filling your belly. As you breathe out, say silently to yourself, “Relax.”
Stand up and walk around as you practice out loud. Don’t memorize your speech or practice it word for word. Talk it through, point by point. Imagine you’re explaining your main ideas to someone who likes you.
6. Focus on your audience
Stage fright is rooted in self-preoccupation. (“How am I doing?” “Am I making any sense?”) Stop focusing on yourself. Focus, instead, on your audience. (“How are you?” “Are you getting this?” “Can you hear me?”).
Most speakers try to accomplish too much in a speech. Then they worry about leaving something out or losing their train of thought. Aim, instead, to communicate what your audience can hear and understand in the limited time you have. Keep it short and simple.
8. Visualize success
Practice relaxation techniques in the days before your presentation. Lie down or sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe slowly. Close your eyes. Scan your body, consciously relaxing any tense muscles. Imagine your upcoming speaking engagement. Picture yourself speaking with confidence.
9. Connect with your audience
Make the audience your allies. Talk to individuals before your presentation to get to know them. Look them in the eye as you speak to them, one person at a time. If your audience sides with you, your job as a speaker becomes much easier and you can relax.
10. Act confident
People won’t see how nervous you are. (They can’t tell if your palms are sweating or your knees are knocking or your heart is pounding.) So don’t tell them. Smile. Stick your chest out. Look confident, even if you don’t feel it.
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