If you are interested in public speaking fear tips, you know how nervous you may feel when you need to step in front of an audience.
I do feel nervous most of the time when I needed to deliver a speech. Although I know almost everybody feels the same, that doesn’t help too much.
In time, I found that there are ways to significantly reduce this stress. In principle, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to ignore what you feel, but to acknowledge, accept your feelings and manage them. Yes, you feel a bit nervous and it’s ok. There are a number of ways that enable you to take control of the situation, manage your fear and deliver a great speech.
Here is what I found to work well:
1. Practice in a Low-Risk Environment First
If you are not an experienced speaker and you suddenly need to face a very large audience, you feel a lot of pressure. A much better approach is to expose yourself to public speaking gradually. Start by delivering speeches to small audiences, in low-risk situations.
There is an organization called Toastmasters, which brings together people interested in developing their public speaking skills. This is the perfect way to make continuous progress, via practicing in low-risk situations.
I’m sure you already know that a certain way of breathing can help relax. However, most people do it wrong. If you breath too much, this will actually increase the level of stress you feel. So, if you start breathing deeper and at the same pace or faster than before, it doesn’t serve you well.
Take a short breath, then let the air go out naturally. Repeat this a few times, trying to slow down and breath less. You will start to feel more relaxed.
3. Profile Your Audience
When you need to deal with the unknown, you generally tend to become nervous. Therefore, a good strategy to help develop confidence is to reduce ambiguity and unknown elements.
Research your audience in great detail. Know their level of familiarity with the topic, their level of education, demographic and psychographic profiles, how big your audience is and so on. This doesn’t help only with putting you at ease, but it is also one of the most important steps in developing a great speech.
4. Prepare Thoroughly
When you prepare your presentation thoroughly, you feel much more confident. The ideal situation is when you are an expert in the field. Try to deliver speeches on topics that fall within your area of expertise. However, even if this is not the case, become very familiar with the topic your speech is about. You will then not be caught off-guard by the various questions you may receive from the audience.
5. Rehearse Smartly (Don’t Memorize The Speech!)
The importance of a good rehearsal can’t be over-emphasized. Don’t try to memorize your presentation, though. This is not what the rehearsal is about. The idea is to get very familiar with the content, think about the points that you want to stress and anticipate questions from the audience.You may also discover that the flow of the speech can be improved and decide to engage into some fine-tuning.
Overall, a few rehearsals make me feel much more at ease when I step in front of the audience.
6. Get Familiar with the Environment
Try to rehearse the speech in the actual location, if possible. If not, at least arrive earlier at the location, in order to get familiar with it. Try to double-check before how the technical equipment works. It is well-known that the technical challenges are very common and you don’t want to experience that with all eyes on you.
7. Leverage Interactivity
The extent to which you can implement this tip depends on the size of your audience. You want to avoid a monologue. This creates a you versus them feeling that can add to your stress level. Try to interact a lot with your audience. Ask them questions, encourage them to share personal examples, make them feel part of your presentation. Of course, avoid to engage into any conflicts with members of the audience. This will create a more relaxed environment.
8. Make Visual Contact (Especially with Receptive People)
Don’t just look in the direction of your audience, but make visual contact with the people you can. Try to find a few smiley, positive faces and disproportionatelly make eye contact with them. It helps you feel supported and connected to the audiencce. This technique works very well, so don’t miss it.
9. Learn How to Manage Difficult People and Challenging Situations
Sometimes you may get into a situation in which the audience is difficult. It may be that it’s non-responsive or even hostile to you. If you are equipped with techniques to manage such situations effectively, you will be more relxed. It helps to be aware of them even if you don’t encounter such challenging situations. Because you know in the back of your mind that you are prepared just in case and this is comforting.
Read: Public Speaking Step-by-Step Guide
10. Visualize a Positive Outcome
This can be used anytime and it also helps with developing confidence and a positive state of mind before delivering a speech. Visualize yourself delivering the presentation in front of a positive, supporting audience. Use elements from your rehearsal and visualize yourself in the location, to make it more realistic.
The more you practice, the better you will manage public speaking anxiety. Allow yourself to feel a little tensed, as it’s perfectly normal. All people experience this. Then, apply the how to overcome fear of public speaking tips above. You’ll become more and more confident and relaxed when you need to speak in public.
Photo: Aleksi Aaltonen
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