Even though public speaking is the number one fear of people living in the US, there will be a time that you will be called on to stand before a group and share. Here are 11 practical and proven ways to overcome your fear and nervousness. These techniques will also make your presentations more powerful. Remembering even one of them will help you prepare for that horrible moment.
- Prepare–Being prepared will take away a great deal of fear and nervousness. That means practicing your presentations out loud.
- Add interest–It is easy to find quotations, anecdotes, and analogies that inform, educate, and entertain your listeners if you have Internet access. It is not longer necessary to spend hours and hours at the library. Google is your best friend in doing research. You should be able to give credit and follow all the copyright laws of using quotations. You aren’t expected to know everything. However, you are expected to give credit to the originator of quotes and anecdotes.
- Add pictures and cartoons–Illustrations are added for a reason. They peek interest. They will keep your audience interested and involved when you’re presenting dry, boring, or technical material. Introduce comical pictures to make your point.
- Prepare for the unexpected–To insure that you are not caught off guard again when you are asked to give an impromtu or short-notice presentation have something that you can share in the back pocket of your mind. My good friend, Linda, shared years ago that she was so terrified of being called on to speak before a class that she would rehearse ideas and creative pointers. Unfortunately, she was often called on because she had so much to add to every discussion.
- Rehearse using your notes. Practice enough times so that you don’t seem stiff or over-rehearsed.
- Make sure that you know your visual-aids and that they make your point, rather than distract from your point.
- Interruptions and distractions can that throw even the best-prepared speakers off course. You can either totally ignore or address the interruptions. Within the mentally challenged community, we appoint a point-person ready to deflect the interruption. This is always a good option though not totally practical at all times.
- Watch your body-language. Some errors include fidgeting with an object that you are hold in your hand. Standing stiffly without smiling makes people uncomfortable. However, on the opposite end, don’t be too relaxed. Don’t lean against anything, unless you are doing it for a special effect.
- Respond to questions with politeness and with a positive attitude. Expect totally difficult queries. Watch your voice inflections. If you show anger or shock, you can lose your audience and distract from what you are saying.
- Relax. Breath deeply and evenly. This will keep you at ease and in control through long or pressured presentations. The beginning and the ending of a presentation are the hardest. To begin, share a joke or story. To end, shut your mouth and sit down.
- Project your voice by using the bottom of your diaphragm. Practice speaking with strength–not volume. In this way, you will be heard and understood without yelling or raising your voice