Posted by Jonathan Crossfield on 18 September 2013
Many of us will need to stand up in front of an audience and speak at some point in our lives.
For some, public speaking is an unavoidable part of the workplace, involving business presentations, conference speeches, training workshops and client pitches.
Relax. I’m not going to advise you to picture everyone in his or her underwear.
Here are some genuine tips to help overcome your fear of public speaking.
Eliminate the unknown
We always fear the unknown. So the more unknown things you can eliminate, the less fear you will experience. And knowing your topic inside out is a good first step – one less thing to worry about.
If you can, also check any technical elements. A technical rehearsal can remove your fear of slides not working, microphones failing or how it feels to be at that podium. All of these can improve your confidence that everything will be all right on the night – including you.
Rehearse out loud
Rehearsing the presentation or speech in your head is not the same as saying it aloud. You’ll be amazed at how speaking your presentation aloud will immediately highlight the bits that don’t work, aren’t clear or would trip up your tongue on the day.
Reading from a script or detailed cards can become a crutch that prevents you from presenting well. You might feel safer, but reading can often trip us up while making us sound less comfortable.
However, if you know your topic well enough, each slide should be enough of a prompt for you to remember the information and speak naturally.
We are always more aware of every quiver of our voice, every ‘umm’ and ‘ah’, every fluffed word than anyone else. Ask the audience afterwards and you may be surprised that they didn’t notice your nervousness or fluffs at all.
But if you comment on your mistakes on stage, it can further dent your confidence and alert the audience that things aren’t quite right. So never draw attention to your mistakes or nerves – simply move on as if everything is exactly as it should be.
Still nervous? Think of it this way – it gets easier each time you do it, so this is your first step to conquering your fear of public-speaking.