Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking
According to the Wall Street Journal, fear of public speaking is the number one phobia experienced by Americans today. Whether making a presentation at a convention or pitching your product to a single individual, public speaking can make even the most confident person nervous.
However, the ability to speak clearly and passionately about your work to a live audience is absolutely crucial to the success of your book or business — this type of presentation establishes an emotional connection to both you and your work. This connection gives your product or service a deeper personal relevancy with your customer.
So, how can you begin to overcome this anxiety? Here are a few helpful tips to get you started on your journey to becoming a confident public speaker.
As with everything in life, practice makes perfect, not only with the memorization of your “product pitch,” but also with human interactions themselves. Recite your presentation in front of a full-length mirror and family or friends. Attend regular networking events and happy hours to flex your social skills. When it comes time to speak, you’ll feel more comfortable having had some experience in a variety of settings.
Before any speaking engagement or networking event be sure to get a good night’s rest, drink plenty of water, and review if you’ve taken the necessary steps to be centered and focused. Be prepared to answer any questions your audience may have about your work.
Stop comparing yourself to professional speaker — not all of us can give a TED Talk! Relax and be the best, most genuine version of yourself.
Many of us have a tendency of speaking too quickly when we are nervous. If you rush through your presentation or your words gush out like a firehouse, your message will be lost and your audience may doubt your competence. Take a deep breath and take your time.
You know that little voice inside your head that starts questioning every minute detail before a stressful event? Tell it to be quiet. Focus on the aspects of the event you can control and let the rest go.
It’s easy to slip into autopilot mode when you’re nervous and forget to allow others to interject or ask questions. When you are presenting your ideas to a crowd, allow for a hearty Q&A session afterwards. And when speaking with someone one-on-one, monitor how long you speak and be sure to listen to the other people in order to cultivate a conversation. This establishes a solid relationship between yourself and your audience that can last for years.
And last, but certainly not least, if you make a mistake or stumble over your words, remember that you are only human, just like everyone else in the room with you. Don’t criticize yourself for the occasional rough patch — a little humor goes a long way!
Do you have any tips for overcoming a fear of public speaking? Have you ever had a public speaking situation in which you felt anxious? Let us know in the comments below!