Many people have a fear of public speaking. For some, this is just a slight case of nerves, while for others, this fear can be debilitating. And while most of us are not in a position where we have to give speeches and presentations every day, chances are we will need to speak in public at one point or another.
If you are in such a situation, it can feel devastating. You have a message you want to get out, but you worry that you are going to sabotage yourself by letting fear get the best of you. It can make you want to back out completely.
But that isn’t what we want. Instead, we want you to overcome your fear so you can speak openly about your passions and get your message out there. To help, try some of the tips below that have worked for us.
This crowd can be any group, but friends and family are best. To get the feel of actually presenting, see if you can do this after hours at a school or church auditorium. If you can’t, seek out a setting that feels most similar, such as a raised deck in a back yard. This will allow you to pinpoint your biggest areas of weakness while getting that first presentation out of the way.
Take your worries that are running through your head and reframe them with positive language. “What will happen if I mess up?” becomes “What will happen if I succeed?” It forces you to think about positive outcomes and breeds positive energy.
And as with before, still forget the mirror. Focusing on the way you look will cause you to overthink things and all but guarantees negative self-talk. Instead, focus on your voice and how you feel. By practicing at least five times, you help to commit the speech to memory, making you less reliant on cues and less likely to forget things.
Whether slides, posters, or something else entirely, you need to know these visual aid like the back of your hand. This will stop you from looking at them over your audience, and also helps to ground you. A lot of your nerves regarding public speaking come from feeling like you aren’t on stable ground, and this helps to change that.
Social media and television and movies might make you think differently, but when you are in person in front of people, the atmosphere is different. Know that the people listening to you are there to support you, not tear you down. Ultimately, while it might feel scary, you are safe.