It’s been said that people would rather die than have to speak in public.
While that’s pretty extreme, the National Institute of Mental Health has stated that being afraid to speak in public is one of the most common phobias, with roughly 75% of people suffering from “glossophobia” – the fear of public speaking.
Men and women both suffer from this malady, with symptoms like boosted blood pressure and perspiration, dry mouth, nausea, and a feeling of panic.
Many people who hate public speaking simply lack confidence. But the thing is, the audience is not sitting there waiting for you to make a mistake. They want you to do well and a good presentation makes everyone in the room feel better.
So how can you feel more confident when asked to speak in public? Here are a few tactics to help you rock your next presentation.
- Be Prepared and Organized
Virtually all experts site being prepared and organized as the two most important aspects to managing your nerves – because this increases your feeling of control. Preparation can mean visiting the venue and room beforehand. Meeting the person in charge of the room you’ll be presenting in. Writing bullet pointed notes to keep you on track. Ensuring any materials you need are printed at least the day before. Having back-up materials in case something malfunctions. Arriving early and of course practicing your presentation several times.
- Be Natural
Projecting confidence to your audience doesn’t have to be that hard. It starts by visualizing delivering your presentation successfully which can reinforce your confidence. Some speakers say they visualize presenting to their friends or family which can relieve stress. When beginning a presentation, be sure to smile, make eye contact across the room and speak slowly and clearly. Often, beginning a presentation with a short personal anecdote or humorous story can remove feelings of nervousness and provide a more natural tone.
- Use Visual Aids
Having a group of people staring at you can be unnerving even for the most experienced presenters. In fact it’s one of the most prevalent reasons that people hate public speaking. A good way around this is to include visual aids such as slides, video, charts, and other props as part of your presentation. It will not only allow you to make your points more clearly, but suddenly everyone isn’t focused on you.
- Everyone Makes Mistakes, Just Move On
Even though you’re prepared, organized and feeling pretty confident, you may mispronounce a word, or forget what you were about to say. Don’t freak out! This happens to even the best speakers – but we don’t always realize it because they’re adept at just moving on.
Often a small gaffe is due to speaking too quickly. If you notice this happening, pause and breathe. This allows you to give thought to what you’re saying. You can also strategically plan some of your pauses – such as after questions and at the end of sections. It’s a tactic that helps you calm down while providing the audience an opportunity to think and reflect.
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