In an ideal world, all of us would be an amazing public speaker. This means confidently getting up in front of the stage and captivating everyone with our speech. There is also that good stage presence and knowing how to close a presentation with applause and cheers. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily close to reality. Many of us experience fear or anxiety when speaking in front of a class or an audience.
Stage fright or the fear of public speaking exists in front of a crowd and video calls or Zoom meetings. The fear doesn’t entirely go away, but it gets better. You can also be a good public speaker while still having fear (but less of it) and have a significantly better experience. Here are a few tips on conquering or managing your fear of public speaking:
Preparation is the key to reducing your fear or anxiety. Know and understand your topic and material so well to minimize your chances of getting off track or making a mistake. It is also beneficial to consider the questions that the audience may ask and get your answers ready. You also need to plan out the materials you want to present, like props or visual aids.
Practice your speech
Ask friends and family members to help you rehearse by asking for feedback, reviewing your speech, or asking potential questions. Practice the entirety of the presentation out loud multiple times, or consider making a video of yourself. This will enable you to review your presentation and find room for improvement. You can get inspiration by watching videos about the art of public speaking.
List and challenge your worries
It is normal to overestimate or exaggerate the (bad) things that can happen when you’re clouded with fear or anxiety. It can be helpful to make a list of your specific worries and identify potential outcomes. You should also look for unbiased evidence that supports your fears and their likelihood of becoming a reality. In short, stop scaring yourself and be realistic about your fears.
Make (a moment of) silence work for you
If you get off track or start to feel nervous in the middle of a presentation, that moment of silence may feel like an eternity. The truth is it is probably just a few seconds. It is okay to pause and take your time during a speech. In fact, it is strongly advised to pause frequently to regain your composure and help you feel in control.
Take it up a notch
If you don’t feel confident enough about your own voice, you can attend public speaking classes or even get singing or voice lessons. Singing can help you make each sound a lot clearer and give the muscles in your mouth a workout. It can also enhance not just your singing voice but also your public speaking ability. Both kids and adults can benefit from voice lessons.
Visualize your success
Imagine giving the speech or presentation exactly how you want it with great success. Research suggests that positive thoughts or visualization can help reduce your fear and anxiety. It is also a good idea to concentrate on your strengths and the things you do best — whether it is about being a good storyteller or explaining in detail complex topics and ideas.
Think about your attire or appearance
It is easy to feel good or confident when you look great. People also make their first impression on your appearance, so it is recommended to dress appropriately or in a way that gets your message across the way you want it. If casual attire is allowed (like in a Zoom class or meeting), it is still important to make an effort to look presentable. It is not necessary to dress quite as formally as you normally do.
Public speaking is a skill that you can learn and be better at. Don’t worry about making a mistake and don’t forget to have fun.