Imagine your life 10 years from now. You are a successful entrepreneur with a solid amount of money in your bank account and a successful business. Chances are this achievement is the result of a combination of attributions and skills. Public speaking is definitely in the top five of that list. Public speaking has the power to motivate and empower others in a way that no amount of writing or other forms of communication can achieve. However, many people feel paralyzed at the idea of speaking in front of crowds or giving speeches in front of strangers.
Here are 10 ways to overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Organize your thoughts
Everything you try to achieve begins in your mind. When organized correctly, the mind is a tool unlike any other. When cluttered with trash, however, it is a weapon to success. Before giving a speech try to organize and plan your words in your head. This will help relax you and reduce your anxiety. In this way you will be able to concentrate on one word at a time and you will prevent chaos in your head. Here is another way to conquer this problem.
2. Concentrate on the audience
Contrary to common knowledge, making eye contact with the audience is actually helpful in overcoming anxiety. Choose a person in the audience who is paying careful attention to your words and pretend that you are giving that speech exclusively for them. By concentrating on the audience, rather than your thoughts and anxiety, your speech will flow easier and better out of your mouth. That pesky inner voice will finally be muted when you stop concentrating all of your energy on its opinion.
3. Manage your breathing techniques
Take deep breaths and pauses in between sentences and even words. Try breathing in a pattern in order to shift your attention from your anxiety to something more positive. By taking breaths in between ideas and sentences, you are not only helping your nerves, but also buying yourself more time. What may seem like a infinite pause for breathing in your mind is just a short phase of a few seconds for your audience. Take advantage of that time to choose the right wording and clarify the next words coming out of your mouth.
4. Practice makes perfect
Try practicing in front of mirror. That way you will be able to study your own facial expressions and gesturing and understand what needs fixing and what doesn’t. Try to present a person who is calm and positive. This is a sure way of engaging your audience. Practicing in front of a mirror is the first step to speaking without fear in front of large crowds.
5. Turn negative energy into positive energy
Nervous energy is often associated with pessimism and negative energy. Although that is the case, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot use that energy to your advantage. Such energy involves adrenaline, which in situations of danger is extremely beneficial for the human. Use that adrenaline to be pumped up and passionate about what you are saying.
6. Nail the introduction
The begging of anything is always the scariest and most difficult bit. The same goes with speeches. If you flop within the first five minutes of your speech, your anxiety will win the battle and will take control for the remainder of the presentation. However, if you approach the introduction calmly and with relative success, your nerves will ease up and you will become an eloquent speaker. Therefore, you need to practice your introduction like no other. Once you get past that part of the speech, you will conclude that you are capable of speaking in front of crowds and your speech will be a sure success.
7. Study your voice
Technology takes the tip of speaking in front of the mirror one step further. Although that is a useful tip, watching back the entire speech is even more. Famous and successful people like Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson have also had issues with public speaking. What people like him have done is recorder themselves. By doing so you can see and hear what you are actually like during such speeches. You are capable of making notes and bettering yourself for the actual presentation.
8. Connect with the audience
Making things personal is one of the golden rules to being an eloquent orator. If you are relying solely on your PowerPoint presentation, you will not get far in the field of speaking. You must convey information in such a way, as to grab the public’s attention. In order to grab the audience’s attention you must project confidence and self-value. Through this projection, you will force the people into trusting your opinion and your words. Try, also, to incorporate personal stories and examples in order to allow the audience to relate to you and your topic.
9. Forget about failure
So what if you are rejected? Stop asking yourself what will happen, how you will feel and what the consequences of an unsuccessful speech will be. Try to live in the moment. Your audience is there to listen to your words, not to crucify you based on your mistakes or shortcomings. Here are a few storytelling techniques to effectively engage your audience.
10. Acknowledge your surroundings.
The best advice about presenting in a new location is to get to know your space. Figure out where you need to stand and where you can walk. The last thing you want to do is stand in the back of the stage looking scared as ever. Learn how to use the podium and all of its technologies and tools beforehand, in order to avoid embarrassment during your speech. Acknowledge any steps or cords that could possibly trip you while you are speaking. Having an actual test run of everything in the room is the only way to be sure the speech will run as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to practice with your surroundings before the actual presentation.
Fear of public speaking is amongst the most common of phobias. However, once the phobia is overcome, the ability to orate will open endless doors for anyone and everyone. Here are other ways to achieve success in public speaking, specifically if you are an introvert.
Photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flig via flickr