Does the thought of public speaking make your stomach drop? Have you ever felt jittery or anxious days before a public speaking event?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Overall, fear of public speaking is America’s biggest phobia – 25.3 percent say they fear speaking in front of a crowd. Clowns (7.6 percent feared) are officially scarier than ghosts (7.3 percent), but zombies are scarier than both (8.9 percent). – Journalist Christopher Ingram, (Washington Post) on the the 2015 Chapman University Survey on American Fears,
More often than not, stage fright begins at an early age and persists into adulthood — the reasons vary from person to person.
We’ve felt the same knots in our stomach and are no stranger to clammy palms. But we’ve found ways to embrace that unsettling feeling.
We want to help you ace public speaking events with a few simple tips. Don’t be fooled though, as these tasks may sound easy, they will challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone.
Preparation is Key
The only thing worse than being unprepared is having poor preparation. The less time you invest in approaching the challenge of a public speaking engagement, the less likely you are to do well in your presentation.
This may leave you red-faced and upset, but may be especially difficult if the event is followed by a Q&A session; you may end up with egg on your face.
Tip: Come fully prepared and gain a clear, simplified understanding of the topic/theme you will explore in your presentation; read previous discussions/journals/articles by leading experts and professionals. Understand the audience with whom you are speaking and have a game plan on how to approach them.
With proper preparation, you can enter into a public speaking engagement confidently, knowing what to expect, but even more important — what not to expect.
Rehearse Your Speech
Let’s say you’ve prepared a speech and memorized every possible detail. While impressive, you will inevitably falter. You need to speak the words aloud. Think of the old adage, practice as if you are the worst and perform as if you are the best.
You can also make use of technology and record yourself speaking and review the video to find speech ticks — as an added bonus you’ll gain insight into your body language.
Repetition is the father of learning, so in order to ensure your success keep practicing — it’s the same formula entertainers, politicians, musicians, and other public figures utilize for success.
Watch and Learn
If you have a good internet connection and a device to view videos, then it’s time to do some digging– explore videos relevant to your topic/theme.
If there are none, try searching ofr notable public speakers and their recorded speaking engagements, so that you may learn by watching. While ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ try to add your own panache — we all have our own style of speaking rooted in our personality.
Tip: Note the body language of the speakers, their vocabulary, and most importantly their use rhetorical devices.
Entertain Your Audience
Humor can liven up any public speaking event, provided tactful and in the proper context. Everything from personal anecdotes to current affairs, viral posts to everyday life — you can use these or other rhetorical devices to break the ice with your audience.
While humor boosts audience engagement, we understand it’s not easy. But, you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian. Finding connections/patterns in the everyday and breaking down complex concepts into relatable, bite-sized content is a key to comedy.
Tip: Brush up on comedy by visiting/viewing humorous sites, blogs, podcasts, and videos. You can also borrow from a favorite comedian, actress, family member, or friend.
Get Everyone Involved
A great way to bond with your audience is through participation.
Make eye contact and show them that you are passionate about what you are speaking on and are genuinely interested in their involvement — If nothing else, it will keep your audience on their toes if you’re selecting volunteers at random.
Tip: Have your audience repeat key points, ask random members a question, call them up on stage, or have them join in a sing-a-long — However, you will need to get creative.
Now that we’ve give you a few tips to embrace, here is a short list of bad ideas to avoid.
- Don’t Deride Yourself
- Boost your morale by developing a positive attitude — Mistakes are going to be made. Roll with it.
- Don’t Become Distracted
- Whether a member of the audience is conducting themselves poorly or you experience a technical snag, focus on your objective — Don’t be afraid to deviate in light of unforeseen circumstances.
- Don’t Stress
- Do something that calms your nerves the day/night before; going for a walk, listening to soothing music, deep breathing, or meditation — Decompress and synchronize your mind & body, so that you may gain sufficient rest.
- Don’t ‘Knock Off the Edge’
- Nothing is worse than waking up with a hangover on the day of your speech. Eat a good meal the night before, followed by a healthy breakfast in the morning.
- Don’t Forget Your Notes
- In the event of a technical glitch they will be a lifesaver; flashcards or index cards. Also, keep a backup of copy on a device in case there is a problem with the digital version or software.
Millions of people experience ‘butterflies’ in their stomachs when faced public speaking, but you must embrace the situation as an opportunity. Working on your weaknesses will help you build confidence.
Have a tip you think should be added to the list? Let us know in the comment section, and remember…