According to the National Social Anxiety Center, “The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population.” Public speaking can be difficult to master, especially if you are a more anxious person. With patience and practice, anyone can learn to be a strong public speaker. Keep reading for more tips.
Get Organized and Be Prepared
Being organized is one of the easiest ways to ensure the success of any speech or presentation you may have to give. Put the main points of your speech down on note cards in order to help you keep your speech on track and help you remember your key points and facts. Preparation is also another major part of any successful speech. Visit the venue prior to your speech if you are able. This will help you feel more comfortable with the room and you will have less anxiety on the actual day of the presentation. You should also have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties. Knowing that you have a second option helps lessen worry about anything going wrong. The most obvious part of this whole process is practice. Practice makes perfect! The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel with everything, and the less you will have to look down to reference your note cards.
Use Positive Mental Imagery
Instead of sitting around thinking about everything that could go wrong, focus on the good that can come of what you are doing. Use positive mental imagery to help manifest the outcome you want most. Think about the good social experiences you had in the past. What elements can you pull from those situations and apply them to this speech? Positive internal thoughts can help boost external confidence.
Avoid things that can make you feel nervous or antsy. Drinking coffee or energy drinks before you give a speech can lead to shakey hands or excessive sweating. Mentally prepare for the speech with some light, calming music to help you feel more at ease during your drive to your speech. You should also focus on your breathing and make sure it stays calm and steady.
Pauses and Eye Contact
Taking pauses during your speech can help you catch your breath as well as breaking up long phrases. You can also use this brief pause to glance at your notecards. During your speech, you should try your hardest to keep your eyes up and looking at the audience or at least in their general direction. If you don’t feel comfortable making direct eye contact with people, focus your eyes on the back of the room and scan the walls back and forth. Keeping your eyes buried in your notes is boring for the audience. They want to connect and engage with you, let them.
Giving speeches can feel absolutely terrifying. However, if you take the time to prepare you can become more comfortable and improve your skills as a public speaker.
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