How does the thought of public speaking make you feel? Does the very thought of it fill you with anxiety? Do you panic at the idea of having to make a speech? This is completely natural! It is totally normal to feel anxious about speaking in front of a group of people, it is perfectly ok to admit that this is outside of your comfort zone. In fact, admitting that it is a scary prospect is the first step to managing the fear and getting on with the job at hand.
Whether you are making a brief speech at a wedding or are the keynote speaker at a big event, the following advice will help you banish the fear and wow your audience.
1. Prepare Well
Preparation is the key to public speaking. Spend time thinking carefully about what you want to say and carefully structure your speech so that you include everything you want to say without going over your allotted time. Write it down and practice it aloud. Practicing aloud is particularly important when it comes to public speaking because it enables you to hear what the speech will sound like – you will find that this forces you to make changes that make the speech sound more natural.
2. Be Comfortable
Wear something you feel good in. Uncomfortable clothing or awkward new shoes that you haven’t walked in before can take your focus away from what you are saying. If you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing and how you are standing, then you will sound more natural and feel less anxious when public speaking.
3. Ooze Confidence (even if you don’t feel it)
Stand up straight, make eye contact with some people in the audience and keep your head up and shoulders back. Having a confident posture actually makes you feel more confident inside, and it also tells people that you know what you are doing so they feel more relaxed and more eager to listen to you. If you do not feel confident while public speaking, then just fake it ‘til you make it!
4. Don’t Let Slip-Ups Throw You
If you make a mistake, don’t let it stop you or derail the speech. Public speaking is so much easier if you learn to expect mistakes and either ignore them or acknowledge them, smile and move on. Nobody expects you to be perfect!
5. End on a High
End the speech with a last burst of confidence; make eye contact, smile, and deliver your last line with energy rather than letting the speech tail off into nothing. Stand for a few seconds before leaving your position. Go out on a high knowing that the next time you have to do some public speaking, it will be so much easier.