Delivering a presentation or speech in front of an audience can be nerve wracking. Very few people are natural-born speakers. The skill of addressing a public audience is forged from practice, experience, and a learning mindset.
Here are some effective strategies on how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
1. Have a Positive, Learning Attitude
Instead of wallowing in your fear and insecurity, see mistakes as learning experiences. Be confident and just know you can correct your mistakes next time. Audiences are more forgiving than one would think think. Do not be afraid of making errors.
2. Organization and Preparation
While you may be put on the spot at times, take any and all opportunities to prepare before delivering a speech. If needed, research your topic and analyze what you will be speaking on. Write down your thoughts freely at first, then organize your material.
3. Have Structure
Here are one of the many ways you can structure your speech.
Introduction: First, start off with a “hook” to attract your audience’s attention and interest. Depending on the topic, this could be a quote, a statistic, a story, a joke, or a combination of all four. If you’re feeling creative enough, start a story in your intro and complete it in your conclusion at the end of your speech. After this hook, introduce yourself and outline what you’ll be talking about.
Body: Secondly, discuss the main points of your speech. If possible, announce each point before you talk about it, so that people can follow (and take notes, if appropriate).
Conclusion: When wrapping up your speech, be sure to review what you discussed and thank your audience for their time.
4. If Possible, Have Notes
When (not if) your mind draws a blank and you forget what you were talking about, all you need to do is look down at your notes and see where you left off. Your notes should be simple and organized. Use a format that is easy for you to follow in case you lose your concentration. Keep it short and sweet. Keywords and bullet points are a good way to start.
5. If Possible, Practice With a Small Audience
Once you have prepared your material in a format that works for you, practice, practice, practice. If possible, deliver your speech in front of someone you know and trust, such as your wife, your husband, a friend, or your cat. While it may seem silly, this will help you prepare mentally for your delivery. However, don’t simply read from or memorize a card. You will keep the audience more interested if you speak conversationally rather than sounding too rehearsed.
6. View The Audience as Friends and Relax
Let’s assume that you feel comfortable making a toast with a large group of friends at a party. Why is that? You trust them and understand that they are not judging your performance.
When delivering a speech, have the mindset that you are having a conversation with new friends. Take deep breaths, relax, and be confident.
7. Lower Your Expectations for Yourself
While it may seem counterproductive, you need to lower the expectations you’ve already set for yourself. No one becomes a professional motivational speaker overnight. Expecting to be perfect only makes you more nervous. Don’t be discouraged when you make mistakes, just laugh them off and move on. As you overcome your fear of public speaking you will become more confident. Rome was not built in a day. More experience will make you a better communicator.
Employers actively seek interpersonal communicators that are comfortable engaging a public audience. Overcoming your fear of public speaking will help both your career and personal life. Take control of your emotions and conquer your shortcomings by learning from your mistakes.
Business owners especially need to have the ability to verbally market their products and service. Showing confidence proves value to customers, so as a business owner that does not like public speaking, it may be beneficial to take a class to improve.
With changing technology, businesses have more venues to verbally market their organization. YouTube has roughly 1 billion users per month. Smart companies are using this tool to attract and retain customers.
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How are you going to attack your fear of public speaking?