When it comes to public speaking, most of us feel anxious and nervous. Seeing hundreds of faces all looking at you, it surely can make anybody edgy. But how are influential people doing it with so much ease? The fear of public speaking is quite normal. Most of us refrain from public speaking, responding with answers like I don’t like being in the spotlight, I don’t like eyes on me, I don’t like being watched.
Further, even if someone shows the courage to stand up and speak in front of an audience, they deliberately avoid making eye contact with the members of the audience. When you do so, it actually makes you even more anxious and nervous.
Public speaking is an art and those who have mastered it enjoy the respect of others. This is because those who are able to speak in front of hundreds and thousands of people show that they can influence them with their words and gestures, making them believe in whatever they say.
It needs practice, and you need to start small. Overcoming fear of public speaking is easy if you know what to do. We have designed this post to help people like you understand that public speaking is nothing to be afraid of. It is all about how you present yourself in front of hundreds and thousands of people.
So, here is how you overcome the fear of public speaking. With these public speaking tips, you will surely be able to speak more confidently and fearlessly.
Let’s jump right into it.
Before you get on stage, it is essential that you know your material. Determine what the gathering is all about – is it a social cause, an award ceremony, felicitation, educational seminar, etc. Based on the type of event, you will be able to prepare your material accordingly. When you know you have content to talk about, it will be easy for you to organize your speech. However, for someone with a fear of public speaking, it is not just about speaking the words that are written in your notepad.
It is about getting yourself comfortable and feeling fairly confident that you have arranged everything. Therefore, consider every angle of how you will be preparing your public speech and how you are going to keep the audience engaged.
With proper organization, your mind will be cleared of any anomalies and doubts that will greatly reduce your fear of public speaking.
Once you know your material, it is time to prepare a topic. The better you understand what you are talking about, the more you will care about the topic. When you prepare for your public speaking, it is vital that you understand what the topic is all about and determine whether you will be able to convey your message to the larger audience.
Take some time to consider what your audience will be expecting you to deliver. Is it a social issue? Is it something common that they can relate to? Or is it an extensive topic? Whatever the case, remember that the audience might ask you some questions, so you will have to make sure that your responses are ready.
The practice is all that you can do. Speak in front of the mirror. And after you gain some confidence, ask your family members to gather around to listen to your speech.
As you slowly start to gain some confidence, you can take part in groups where they encourage people to speak up. Moreover, you can convince your manager or team leader at the office that you are comfortable giving presentations to your colleagues regarding work.
Start small and slowly build your confidence. We recommend that you make a video of your speech and review it over and over again to see opportunities for improvement.
The most important aspect of public speaking is your body language. You need to challenge your specific worries like not being able to make eye contact with the members in the audience, specific hand gestures that you are worried about, stuttering, etc. You need to list the specific worries that will make you look bad on stage. And one by one, try to overcome these worries.
Most people tend to stammer or stutter when they see a large audience. They forget what they had prepared for public speaking. So, the best option would be to write everything down on paper and slowly read your notes out loud (don’t scream!) in front of the mirror.
Work on your hand gestures. Don’t move your hands out of anxiety. Move them accordingly as you speak. Hand gestures seem nominal, but they play a crucial role in helping you express your words.
If possible, walk when you talk. Standing still and delivering a speech could be daunting, especially for someone with a fear of public speaking. Walking will help you diverge your mind off the audience and help you express what you are trying to say.
Finally, work on making eye contact with the audience. If you want people to thoroughly understand what you are saying, making eye contact is essential.
While it is easier said than done, you can start in a small group. As said, you can ask your friends or family members to listen to your speech. Since they are familiar faces, it will be easy for you to make eye contact with them. Slowly, try to increase the members of the group.
You could take part in public speaking competitions as well to give you an idea of what to expect from the audience. Moreover, it will help you learn from others as well.
If you listen to public speaking, you will realize that all the successful public speakers have one thing in common – they follow a specific pattern. The pattern can be anything from a specific flow or rhythm. There are two types of speakers – one is who does only the talking, but in a way that it keeps the audience engaged and the other is who uses the audience to convey their message.
You need to determine which one you are. The goal is to not make the audience feel bored of you talking while ensuring that they show interest in what you have to say. One simple way to do is to keep your sentences short and take short pauses in between sentences.
After completing your point, you could direct towards the audience and ask them questions. Whatever you do, ensure that you follow the same pattern from start to end.
Audience engagement is the key to successful public speaking. As we said earlier, you need to find ways to keep your audience involved in what you are saying. If you are feeling nervous or have gone blank on what you have to say next, you should immediately turn your presentation from monologue to dialogue. This will take the audience’s focus from you to the person who you asked a question. While the member from the audience will be speaking, this gives you enough time to put what you have prepared back on track again.
If possible, carry the whole speech in a piece of paper. If you feel lost, you can give a quick look at the written note.
Feeling nervous in front of a broad audience is common. Using your audience to engage your audience is a great tactic used by professional public speakers.
The biggest mistake that the majority of novice speakers make is parroting the whole speech without understanding its meaning. Professional public speakers know their material by remembering the key points and prompts on examples and subtopics to cover.
Speaking straight out of the paper or what you have written will make you sound like a robot. You have to talk in a normal way like you are talking to your friends, but keep a professional tone.
Most importantly, cover only the important points and don’t make it lengthy. If you are giving a presentation, use images as much as possible in your material rather than bullets and paragraphs. Visuals are enough to convey your message.
One way to overcome your fear of public speaking is to listen to other public speakers. You can look into speakers from different niches and analyze how they deliver their speech. A politician will have a different approach towards his/her speech as compared to a techie or a motivational speaker. You can also watch stand-up comedies to see how they bring humor in their speaking. Moreover, TED talks are also an excellent source for beginners. But if possible, attend live events. It will give you an idea of how you should and shouldn’t present yourself in front of the audience.
That’s it! These are some of the more important public speaking tips that you should look into. It is all about practice and having a clear mind when speaking. It may overwhelm you a bit at first, but as you get used to the crowd and the environment, overcoming fear of public speaking will become a lot easier.
27 FEB 2019RACI Matrix: How does it help Project Managers?