Did you know that the fear of public speaking is called glossophobia? It is also estimated that somewhere close to 75% of people suffer from it. If you’re one of these people dreading their next presentation, here are 10 tips to help you kick that anxiety! And if in the end, none of these work, at least take some comfort in knowing that you are DEFINITELY not the only one with a fear of public speaking (about 3/4 of your class does too!).
Some studies show that practicing breathing exercises before the event will ultimately calm you down (even if it’s just a little bit). It is also very important to remember to breathe between sentences. Your speech is not a race, so take your time!
Although it is a cliché phrase, it’s true. Attempting to wing a presentation or speech that counts for half your grade can be very nerve-wracking…especially for those with a fear of public speaking – talk about pressure! Always practice what you want to say before saying it to a room full of people so you are confident in your words.
Note cards or flashcards can really help you along while talking to a large crowd. Don’t write down your speech word for word – it could wind up confusing you, and chances are, you’ll lose your spot if there are too many words on the card. Make a bullet point list of the key ideas you need to discuss. Avoid sounding like a robot – AKA, don’t read directly from your cards.
Visual aids don’t exactly work in every situation, however, if they are applicable, they can be a great source for those with a fear of public speaking. What do I mean by this? Visual aids will draw some of the eye contact away from you, as people will be concentrating on the visuals instead. The digress of attention can be a HUGE relief for nervous presenters.
Sometimes, especially when talking in front of large crowds, we tend to move our bodies without even realizing it. If you want to deliver a powerful speech, then make sure you have a powerful stance…literally. Even if you stay tucked behind the comfort of a podium, be sure to have your feet flat on the floor and a little less than shoulders width apart. Remove your hands from your pockets and don’t play with your clothing. Practice your speech in front of a mirror beforehand so you can catch any awkward movements you may be making.
I don’t know about you, but I feel much more confident giving a presentation when I know that I look good. So, if you dress the part, you’ll boost your confidence and squash that pesky little bug called nerves.
This part can be really easy if you happen to have your friends in the room, but if you’re in a room full of strangers, it might be a little harder. You don’t necessarily have to actually make eye contact with people – there’s a sneaky trick to making it only appear as if you are. Scan the back corners of the room with your eyes, looking above everyone’s heads. From the audience’s POV, it looks as if you are simply looking at the seat behind each person. Tricky!
This one may seem obvious, but it truly is so important. If you don’t really know much on your topic, it’s hard to fake the confidence aspect of your speech – never mind answering any questions at the end. When practicing your speech, be sure to think of where the audience might form questions and try to have answers ready. It is definitely okay to not know everything, just politely say that your research did not go that in depth or you can’t recall the exact number.
Give the audience something to take home with them after the presentation – usually some sort of action or question to think about, or even a challenge to them. Even if your fear of public speaking was apparent throughout your entire presentation, if you end on a strong note, it will leave a lasting impression and your visible nervousness will quickly be overlooked.
Some colleges offer public speaking as a course that can count for your general education requirements. Yes, obviously if you have a fear of public speaking you are not going to want to take this class…but think about it, YOU are exactly who this class was made for. They will work with you to perfect your public speaking skills and overcome that fear, one on one. Consider looking into Toastmasters too, they are national group dedicated to help people step up their public speaking game!