Public speaking is feared by many and even by professionals at times. However, when you’re a business owner, executive, or even a student, you must stand in front of an audience to speak with poise and purpose. I hope these tips will help you overcome this fear of speaking in public so that you can tell your stories to the masses as you become a better speaker in public. As the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking – David Brooks, has often said: “Talking is a necessity. Public Speaking is an art.” It is an art developed with practice to achieve excellence, not perfection.
Accept your nervousness.
Being nervous is okay, even if you are an experienced public speaker. It happens not to some but to us all. We all get cold feet and shaky hands from time to time. To overcome anxiety, expect it, prepare for it, and get down to the root of why you are anxious in the first place. According to the National Social Anxiety Center, it can help to reframe how you think about freezing on stage. Before you choose a fight or flight response, practice beginning with a smile as you breathe. Make smiling and breathing the first thing you practice as a speaker. How and what you practice becomes permanent, so having the right place to practice is invaluable.
Create a peaceful environment at home.
One of the first things you can do as a speaker is to have a private space where you feel safe and secure to practice and express your emotions freely. Having a stress-free quiet room begins by keeping it clean and decluttered. If possible, add a few living plants. Bring some of Mother Nature’s magic into your room. Studies have shown that inviting nature into your living space improves mood and reduces stress. Everything should have its place, and every place should have its space.
Get to know your audience.
According to Sprout Social, the term niche marketing is the practice of narrowing down your message to your specific audience. It involves research and knowledge that speaks to those who need to listen. Use the same principle to better communicate with your in-person crowd. Ensure that your content suits your audience’s experience level and understanding. In other words, don’t give a doctorate-level presentation to a group of high school freshmen.
Format your own success.
Your speaker’s blueprint is an idea discussed before. Essentially, this is the time you take before your speech begins to get your thoughts collected. Have a foundational statement ready that helps to build your story. Remember, your message should be clear with points and purpose, leaving your listeners eager to offer applause.
Showcase your personality.
As a form of social anxiety, the fear of speaking may be triggered by not feeling connected to your audience. Taking this even further, you may not feel connected because you don’t feel like you can be yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, which will help you look and sound more credible throughout your speaking endeavor. However, be cautious not to overdo the humor; Lumen Learning suggests knowing when a laugh is appropriate and when it is not. Humor should be used sparingly and only when you have a good relationship with the person, audience, or group.
Work from an outline.
Although you’ve probably spent days or weeks perfecting what you want to say, now’s not the time to read your cue cards. Speeches are delivered and not read. Instead, get familiar with your subject matter, but remember to look at your audience. The last thing you want your audience to think is you’re distracted or don’t care about making a connection. Maintaining eye contact with your audience also encourages engagement and exudes confidence.
Whether you’re standing up in your high school auditorium, giving a presentation at work, or speaking at a charity event, it’s okay to be nervous. Your audience wants you to succeed, not fail. Give yourself the best chance at a successful speech by accepting that nervousness as part of the journey to your success. Perfection is an illusion. Seek excellence. Excellence is being better today than your experience before. These tips, and others you will discover on your journey, will help you stand up and speak confidently to any audience as you develop into a better Public Speaker.
Written by Ed Carter – Edited By Henry O. Miller DTM4/PDG