The average person ranks the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death. The truth is, this fear could be hurting your professional and personal life.
You may have been there before.
You feel nervous, your palms sweat, your stomach ties itself into knots. You don’t want to do it. You would rather do anything else than talk to someone.
Is this you?
In business, it is essentially important for you to be able to get your point across. It is likely that all of us will one day have to speak in public. Whether we are giving a formal presentation to an audience, or simply asking our boss for a promotion, speaking skills are essential to getting ahead in a professional setting.
The fear of public speaking is very real. However, there are techniques to help you overcome your fears. There are even ways to help harness your energy in a positive way.
Keep reading if you want to know how. . .
1) Get Organized
When you organize all of your thoughts and materials it helps you to become much more relaxed and calm. When you have clear, organized thoughts it can greatly reduce your speaking anxiety because you can better focus on the one thing at hand, giving a great speech.
2) Practice and Prepare Extensively
Nothing takes the place of practicing and preparing for your speech. Write out a script of your key points, but don’t speak from it word for word. Prepare for your speech so well that you could answer any possible question thrown at you. If you’re an entrepreneur or executive, consider taking attending a presentation training workshop to improve your skills.
3) Eliminate Fear of Rejection
“What if my audience hates my speech? What if they boo me off stage?” Try to eliminate all of your fears of rejection. The audience is there to listen to you for a reason.
4) Focus on Patterns
When you speak try to get into a rhythm or a flow. Keep you sentences short and to the point and repeat key points. A short pause in between points can add anticipation to what you are going to say next.
5) Watch Yourself in the Mirror
Pay attention to:
- Your facial expressions
- Your gestures
- Your body movements
- How welcoming you appear
When you have gentle expressions and a calm demeanor when you speak, you will be more welcoming to your audience.
6) Record Yourself and Learn Your Voice
Record your speech on your phone or video camera. Record yourself giving the talk from beginning to end. Then listen to it or watch it, and make notes on how you could make it better. Some people do not like listening to the sound of their voice on tape, so it is important that you get used to your own voice and speaking style.
7) Work On Your Breathing
When you focus on your breathing your voice will have more resonance and you will relax. Breathe calmly and focus on getting into a rhythm.
8) Practice Some More . . .
When someone asks me how he can build effective communication skills and improve his public speaking, I quote to him the words of Elbert Hubbard, who said, “The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.”
9) Give your Speech to Another Person
There are plenty of people you can practice on. Be sure to tell the person to be completely honest with you in their critique.
Examples of people you can practice on:
- Your significant other
- Your friends
- Your parents
- Your dog . . .
Speaking directly to another person will help relax you and give you experience with getting feedback from someone. If they have questions about your speech, it is likely that members of an audience will have the same questions.
10) Public Speaking Classes
Find a great coach or mentor. There are many groups that you can join to learn the art of public speaking. A group such as Toastmasters is non-profit and helps people get over their fears by having them practice speaking on subjects over and over.
11) Lightly Exercise Before Speaking
Exercising lightly before a presentation can get your blood circulating and send oxygen to your brain. Take a walk before a speech or do a few knee bends.
12) PowerPoint Can Be Really Great, or Really Bad
Sometimes, having a powerpoint can be your best friend. It can help you if you lose your train of thought, keep your audience engaged, and give people a good place to grab notes and main points from.
However, do not put paragraphs and 1,670,987 other things on one slide. To learn how to create an impactful presentation here: 16 Tips to Create a Great PowerPoint Presentation.
13) Even Warren Buffett Had Public Speaking Anxiety at First
Buffett got over his fears by teaching investing principles to people twice his age. He forced himself to talk to people. He practiced these skills over and over again. Read more about how Buffett overcame his public speaking fears.
14) Sip Water That’s Warm or Room Temperature
15) Read Eloquence in Public Speaking by Dr. Kenneth McFarland
McFarland, who passed away in 1985, is also known as the “Dean of American Public Speakers,” and in his book he didn’t talk about methodology or technique at all.
His central message, was that the key to eloquence is the emotional component that the speaker brings to the subject.
To put it another way, the starting point of being an excellent speaker is for you to really care about your subject.
16) Pick a Subject That You Really Care About
How to pick a subject that you really care about:
- The subject should have had an inordinate impact on you
- You want to share it with others
- You intensely feel others could benefit from your knowledge
- You can speak about it from the heart
When you speak about something you passionately care about you will be more comfortable and feel more confident in your element.
17) Know 100 Words for Every Word That You Speak
Ernest Hemingway wrote that, “In order to write well, you must know 10 words about the subject for every word that you write. Otherwise, the reader will know that this is not true writing.”
You must know 100 words for every word that you speak. Otherwise, your audience will have the sense that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.
18) Focus On the Material, Not the Audience
Focus on delivering your material in the best way possible. Don’t worry about audience reactions.
When you let go of your stress and relax it eases your body and makes you less tense. Look at #24 for an interesting way that might help you to relax . . .
20) Don’t Overthink Audience Reactions
There is always going to be someone in the audience on their phone or yawning. Remember that there will always be people who are bored or tired. None of these audience reactions have anything to do with you personally.
21) Avoid Talking Too Fast
Talking fast during a speech interferes with your breathing patterns. If you talk to fast you will breathe less, and feeling short of breath will make you panicked. Practice slowing down when you speak, and you will be much more calm and relaxed.
22) Make Your Nervous Energy Work for You
Learn to channel your nervous energy into positive energy. Being nervous is a form of adrenaline. You can use it in a positive way to help give an impassioned presentation.
23) Pay Any Price and Spend Any Amount of Time to Speak Well
Make a decision right now that you want to learn to speak and learn to speak well. Be willing to pay any price and go to any lengths to achieve your goal.
Many people leapfrog over others in their careers by overcoming their speaking anxiety. In the long run the better you are and the better you get at it the farther and farther you will go in your business career.
24) Meditate 5 Minutes a Day
Meditating can help clear your head of negative thoughts. In an article in Forbes, Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America discussed his public speaking anxiety and how meditating for 5 minutes a day helped him to eradicate negative thoughts from his mind.
25) Have Pride in Your Work & Recognize Your Success
Your strongest critic is you. When you finish a speech or delivering a presentation, give yourself a pat on the back. You overcame your fears and you did it. Have pride in yourself.
26) Develop a Plan to Improve Your Next Speech
Practice makes perfect. If there is a video of your speech, watch it and make notes on how you can improve on it for next time.
How do you think you did?
- Are there areas you think you could have improved?
- Did you seem stiff or make any weird facial expressions?
- Did you use a PowerPoint to your advantage? Did it help?
- Did you use “um” often?
- How was your rhythm?
Write everything down, keep practicing and improving. In time you will banish all of your fears of public speaking.
No longer are you one of the people who fears public speaking! W hope these tips were beneficial for you.
How did you overcome your fears of public speaking? Leave a message in the comments and please share this post with your friends.