One study showed that the #1 fear that people identify is public speaking … #2 was death! As Seinfeld famously said, that means if you are going to a funeral people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy …
Standing up in front of a crowd or even a small group to speak can be stressful. If you are not confident when speaking, your fears can also show through and make for a not so pleasurable experience for your audience either.
Whether for you or your kids, here are five tips for overcoming your fears of public speaking and rocking your next presentation.
Don’t be afraid of eye contact
Whenever you need to speak to an audience, you need make eye contact as much as possible. Try to connect with audience members for 3-5 seconds each time you look up. This will help your audience to connect with you better and will help you feel as if you are talking to one person rather than a large crowd.
Find just a few people and then make eye contact with them for 3-5 seconds during each section or block of your speech. This can be tricky at first but a great way to practice is use objects in your house as audience members. Once you get this skill down, the rest will come much easier.
When it comes to public speaking “you are never fully dressed without a smile”. You need to pull out a smile on stage, even it is a fake one. Not only will smiling tell the audience that you are happy but it will also tell your brain that you are happy too. This will help your confidence levels and make you a more engaging speaker.
Smiling also naturally takes you to a peaceful place and makes your voice sound more engaging. This will naturally slow down your speech.
Take a breath
One thing that many people who fear public speaking do is use words such as “um”, “like”, “and” or “you know” when they take a breath. They will say “and”, then inhale exhale and continue on. Practice omitting the word and just take the breath. It will sound less like you are trying to find your words and naturally relax you.
Also as you take a breath you can regulate how loud your speech is. When you are calm, you will be able to better project your voice and appear less like you are yelling. Having the opportunity to create flow in your speech will be much more engaging to your audience and much less stressful for you.
One reason we have fears about public speaking is simply because we have not heard ourselves speak. One way you can remedy this is to record your presentation either on your phone with either the camera or via a voicemail/memo to yourself. When you actually hear yourself speak, you can tell if you speak to fast, too slow or identify other things in the delivery of your speech that you can improve.
This also allows you to realize that your speech my not be as bad as you think. One way to boost your confidence is to listen to yourself and know with confidence that you are speaking not only well but with passion and knowledge.
You should also arrive at the site of the speech early. This will give you the chance to walk around, look over the space that you are speaking in and if possible, practice with the microphone and standing on stage.
Always keep things simple
Think about breaking your speech up into sections or more blocks of content rather than long tangents. When you speak in smaller thoughts your audience can remain engaged and focused. This will also help you as a speaker remain on topic and create a rhythm.
Know that the audience wants you to be successful
By practicing, controlling breathing and engaging some basic skills for communicating with others, you can become a successful speaker in no time. Your audience wants you to be successful so make sure that you know that before ever taking the stage.
Public speaking doesn’t have to be scary. Success can easily be achieved if you simply take the time to practice and properly prepare yourself.