Whether you are a seasoned pro or a novice to public speaking, we all get nervous from time to time before talking in front of an audience. Even the best public speakers admit that there are certain topics or audiences that have rattled their nerves, so it is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you are a nervous public speaker or want to be prepared in case that anxiety ever strikes, having some helpful tips at the ready can keep you from losing your nerve or going off the deep end.
Tips to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking
#1. Be Prepared
The number one reason people feel anxious about speaking in front of others is they are afraid they will make a mistake. Practicing your speech a lot (like… A LOT a lot) will help you to feel more confident and worry less about this.
#2. Breathe Slowly and Deeply
Deep breathing exercises will help to slow the physiological response to fear and calm your nerves. When you breathe deeply, you provide your body with more oxygen, which slows your heart rate and relaxes muscles. And taking deeper slower breaths makes you talk slower, which helps you relax more, too.
Creating a mental picture of completing a successful speech will help motivate you and give you confidence. What will it look and feel like when you are done, and the audience is clapping? Picturing your successful talk in vivid detail can help you get over any anxiety you may have.
When you smile, it releases endorphins, which can lower your anxiety and help you feel calmer. And smiling shows that you are confident, which can help you relax.
If you know you get nervous about speaking, be sure to exercise earlier in the day. Working out boosts your endorphins, too, which will help you feel better.
#6. Take a Drink
One effect of nervousness is a dry mouth. And when your mouth feels sticky, you will feel even more afraid. Stay hydrated before your talk and before you have water nearby throughout. Do not be scared to stop and take a sip now and then as you are talking.
#7. Stop Worrying About Perfection
No one is perfect, and it is okay to accept that you will not be either. Once you let go of the notion of perfection, you worry less about messing up and accept that it is all part of the experience. Just be yourself, and your audience will engage with you even more.
#8. Work on Eye Contact
At the beginning of your speech, find four or five friendly faces in various parts of the room, and make eye contact with those people throughout your talk. When you smile at someone, their response will likely be to smile back, which boosts your confidence.
#9. Meet the Audience
If you can, talk with some members of the audience before your speech starts. Ask their names and find out why they have come. This will put you at ease when you see that these are only normal, everyday people, and you can incorporate anything you learn from them into your presentation.
#10. Stand with Power
Your body language can help you feel more confident. Try standing up straight, pushing your shoulders back and chest out, and placing your hands on your hips. When you feel powerful physically, you will embody confidence and assurance.
Using these ten tips, you can improve your confidence and relax, calm your jittery nerves, and feel ready to take on the world.