Public speaking is one of the biggest fears among people today. Fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, can severely restrict your personal and professional growth, though. If you’re too afraid to present in front of an audience or speak to a small group of investors, your career will remain static. We at Presentation Experts – London offer presentation skills coaching and workshops to help working professionals overcome their fear of public speaking. Here are our top tips.
Know Your Topic
Have you ever had to give a presentation about a topic you knew nothing about? You were probably terrified that you’d look foolish, or that your audience would somehow know you’re “faking it.” When you speak about a subject you’re familiar with, you eliminate that worry.
When you’re passionate about something, your audience will be able to tell as you deliver your speech. You’re likely to be more engaging. Furthermore, don’t just memories your speech word-for-word if you can help it. You might think this is a good technique for reducing stress. But it only increases anxiety when you forget your next word or sentence in the middle of your presentation, and you struggle to find it. Having a solid, general outline of your topic is best.
When it comes time to deliver the speech, focus on your subject, not your audience. If you’re too tuned in to audience reaction then you’ll lose control of your nerves. Stay focused on your topic and give the presentation you’ve prepared for.
Organize and Prepare
If you must deliver a presentation on an unfamiliar topic, then get to know it. Do some research and become knowledgeable. Having a background in the subject will make you feel more comfortable when giving the presentation.
When you organize your speech, write it in a pattern. You don’t write the same way you speak, so you should adapt for verbal delivery. Include shorter sentences and use more repetition than you would in a written document.
Additionally, consider your use of PowerPoint wisely. This is one of the main takeaways we give in our presentation skills workshop at the Presentation Experts. If not done properly, a PowerPoint presentation can be distracting for your audience. When done well, it can be a significant aid in your presentation.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Another great way to reduce the fear of public speaking is to practice. Once you have your speech written and organized, practice your delivery in front of a mirror. Watch yourself for facial expressions and gestures, so you can picture how you’ll appear to your audience.
You can take this a step further and even record or film yourself giving your presentation. You can become more familiar with your own voice and how it sounds, as well as watch your body language. Another terrific practice method is to deliver a speech in front of a friend. This gives you experience speaking in front of a live audience, who can also give you feedback on your performance.
Work on Breath and Meditate
It’s proven that you can reduce anxiety with dedicated breathing exercises and regular meditation. When you focus on breath and breathe evenly, it will help stabilize your voice. In addition to breathing exercises, incorporate 5 minutes of meditation every day. Regular meditation can help keep away negative thoughts and reduce fears about public speaking.
Exercise and Drink Warm Water
Another technique to help you right before delivering your presentation is to exercise lightly. Don’t do a full workout, just take a walk or stretch out your legs. Getting the flood flowing will energize you, sending oxygen to your brain to help clear your head.
To help with your voice, drink warm or room temperature water as well. Adding some lemon is even more beneficial. It’s best to avoid sugary drinks before you speak as well, as these can dry out your mouth.
Give Yourself Credit When You Succeed
Overcoming your fears to deliver a public presentation isn’t easy. After you’ve successfully given a speech, congratulate yourself. See this success as a reminder that you can speak in public.
You should always think about how you can improve, too. To evaluate your performance critically and spot areas in which you could do better. But don’t be too hard on yourself – you’re trying to boost your confidence here, not destroy it.
At our presentation training in London, we see people with public speaking fears overcome their anxiety all the time. There’s no secret to it – just some hard work and commitment. If you follow these tips, then you can overcome your fears too.