Sometimes our jobs require us to deliver speeches or presentations. Some rise to the challenge free of nerves. Whereas others suffer with great anxiety, sweat profusely, and shake uncontrollably. Not only is a fear of public speaking embarrassing, but it can also greatly affect our self-esteem and productivity at work.
A phobia of delivering presentations or talks can often lead us to miss out on fantastic opportunities and our mental health can suffer and deteriorate. Luckily, there are some fantastic exercises and practices that you can employ to help you remain in control.
Even professional speakers who have been in the business for years come scrupulously prepared. Whether hosting an awards ceremony or headlining a conference, speakers always ensure everything is organised, from notes and prompt cards, to presentation aids and the obligatory glass of water. Having structure and confidence if your speech reduces anxiety as your mind is logically prepared to take on the task.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you aren't ready to practice your presentation in front of friends or family, recording yourself can be a valuable first step. Although it can be extremely uncomfortable to hear your own voice, it will allow you to focus upon delivery, volume, intonation, and pace. This will allow you to critique yourself and know you are entering the event space with poise.
Ditch the Script
Many of us cling to our speech notes as a safety blanket. However, this can often result in total reliance on the paper in front of us and we end up reading the speech word for word, with little personality. As you practice over time, gradually reduce the amount you reach for your script. Before long it will become second nature and you can recite it with flair and character. You can always have notes written on prompt cards as a backup.
Attend Professional Courses
Attending classes or courses geared towards public speaking can deliver the confidence boost many need. Being taught how to deliver a talk and picking up the tricks of the trade will allow you to feel like you are prepared with the best tools. Knowing you have done everything possible to make yourself a success will fill you with self-assurance.
Transforming Nervous Energy
Nerves are a form of adrenaline that initiate the body's fight-or-flight response. It is completely natural and is just your nervous system revving you up for the task. Nerves can often intimidate speakers, but how we adopt the nervous energy and transform it into positive energy is key. Deep breathing, listening to a playlist that keeps you calm, or giving yourself a pep-talk are much better options than uncontrolled panic.
Rest and Food
It is very easy to let self care slip when you fear public speaking. Preparing for the imminent event takes up all your time. However, making sure you are getting enough sleep and fuelling your body with healthy foods will help keep stress hormones at bay. Some of the best stress-busting foods include asparagus, avocado, milk, almonds, salmon, and turkey.
Audience of Family & Friends
Even if they aren't 100% sure on your subject matter, performing your speech to family and friends is a valuable experience. Essentially a rehearsal of the real thing, it will make you comfortable with speaking in front of others. Furthermore, family and friends can be ruthlessly critical. This will allow you to make edits to your presentation or speech so that your audience can digest it better.
We all know that having an uncontrollable fear of public speaking can hurt our personal and professional lives. Using the tips above will help in making the experience easier. The more public speaking you do, the more relaxed you will become. Very few of us revel in the limelight but we can at least do everything we can to turn a negative experience into a positive one.