Being nervous or fearful of public speaking is a prevalent phobia. In fact, nearly one-fourth of adults would list the fear of public speaking as their number one fear. Are you a part of this 25%? If so, there are some simple techniques you can use to help lower your anxiety and allow you to speak with confidence. If you need to deal with your fear of public speaking, then these suggestions and tips will help.
Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking
Practice and Prepare
There is nothing that will calm your nerves like feeling as prepared as possible for your speech. The more you practice, the less you will be worried about forgetting what you want to say or losing your place. When practicing, be sure to include your visual aids, if you are using them, so you will feel confident with that distraction, as well. Also, practice in front of a mirror to watch your nonverbal cues as well as hear your words. Practice making eye contact, so this feels more natural for you.
Use Your Breathing to Calm You
Taking slow, deep breaths can not only improve the quality of your voice but also relax your nerves. Deep breathing exercises are excellent for helping reduce jitters and breathing slowly throughout your speech will make it easier to talk in a conversational tone instead of rushing.
Work Out Before Your Speech
When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that enhance your mood. Plan to work out before your speech, so that you have the advantage of working off some of your nervous energy while enjoying the release of these chemicals to reduce your stress.
Take a Class
Some people really benefit from taking a course in public speaking. You can learn how to put together an effective speech, how to use your body language to communicate effectively, and strategies for improving your skills. You may also consider taking a drama class, which can enhance your confidence being on stage, help you learn to project more, and give you strategies for improving your body movements and facial expressions.
When you smile, you instantly improve your mindset and mood. Even when you do not feel happy, the act of smiling helps to elevate your mood. Try smiling at audience members as they enter the room, and you will see that nearly all of them will smile back, which also lifts your spirits.
If your fear of public speaking is really intense, start with simple, everyday experiences to improve your confidence. Read aloud to someone you know or ask a question at a work meeting. Slowly, over time, build up to saying something at a party in front of all the guests, presenting at your child’s school, or giving a short demonstration to colleagues. The more you practice your public speaking skills, the more confident you will feel. Don’t feel like you must master it all at once, though.
Don’t Memorize Your Speech
The point of writing out your speech is not to create a script but to be sure you know all the main points you want to cover. Once you have written your address, practice delivering it in a conversational style as if you were talking with your best friend or spouse. It does not matter how you say it, but only that you cover all the points.
The audience does not have a copy of your speech, so they will not know that you chose a different word or switched two sections. When you work from notes instead of a script, you will feel less nervous about forgetting and can better discuss your ideas and points.