Anybody who has had to prepare a speech or presentation before has most likely received the same advice over and over again – Imagine that the audience is naked, practice your speech countless times beforehand and remember to make eye contact with individuals in the crowd.
While advice that follows along these traditional guidelines may be helpful, there is another set of tips, written by Alex Honeysett at The Muse that are likely to help you to conquer your nervousness and deliver the best speech you possibly can.
Remember to Focus on the Audience
Try not to place too much focus on yourself in your mind. Even though you’re the one who has written the content and prepared for weeks, it is actually about what you can teach your audience. Taking the pressure off of yourself and placing significance on the key message that you wish to share will allow you to think more about the core content that really matters, and less about coming across as perfect.
Try thinking less about you, and more about the audience and the way you can make them feel through the words and messages that you deliver. According to Honeysett, this is how some of the most effective speeches that carry the most impact are brought to life.
Become Familiar with the way Fear Feels in Your Body
It is natural, and extremely likely to happen no matter how much you mentally prepare yourself, to feel afraid and experience that sensation of adrenaline pumping through your veins. This “fight or flight” feeling, usually sends signals in the body to panic and abandon the task that is bringing on the fear.
Speakers who have experienced this in front of an audience before, often end up being afraid of being afraid. This anticipation will cause a sense of panic when you start feeling that fear in front of an audience again, and the result will be a performance that you will not be happy with.
The best thing to do in order to curb your fear of speaking in public is to rather become familiar with it. Ask yourself what happens to your body when you feel nervous? Do you speak very quickly? Run a blank? Feel the need to throw up?
Identifying how fear feels physically to you will enable you to:
Effectively Subdue Those Feelings
Head of TED Talks, Chris Anderson once said that, when he was especially anxious about a speech he was to give, he would go to the stairwell and do push ups in order to get rid of some of his adrenaline. This helped him to calm his nerves and feel more confident.
Author and public speaker, Simon Sinek said that when he feels nervous, he tells himself instead that he is excited.This change in mind-set is often said to be common in Olympic athletes, who are asked in interviews after their performance if they were tense beforehand, and they reply that they were not nervous, but excited.
Methods of soothing your feelings of anxiousness will be unique to you. It is important to focus on changing your frame of mind and finding what works best for you in order to overcome the fear before, and during, your performance.
Don’t Let Those Not-So Friendly Faces in the Audience Affect You
No matter the size of the crowd that you are speaking in front of, there will always be those seemingly bored and disinterested faces. Don’t let them discourage you. Rather focus on the friendly faces in the crowd who are hanging onto each word you are saying. Concentrating on the more negative expressions will leave you distracted and feeling insecure.
Don’t Be Scared to Be Independent from Your Notes
Nobody enjoys listening to a speaker who rattles off notes from a PowerPoint presentation. It is, of course, important to be prepared, know your content extremely well and memorize some main points that will guide you as you speak. However, t is difficult to connect with your audience if you are too distracted by saying each word as you originally prepared it.
Honeysett therefore suggests having a PowerPoint with your main points, and using a piece of paper with key segments of information from your speech. Trust that you have prepared well and know the content enough to be able to speak about it naturally without having each word written down.
It is also encouraged not to wait until “the right time” to get yourself out there. If there is an industry conference that you’d be interested in contributing your expertise to, or a local event or team presentation that you would like to lead, write a gripping proposal (or email to your boss) and get yourself out there as soon as possible. Granted, you will be scared, but the experience will be worth it and this advice assist in making you a phenomenal speaker.