Fear of public speaking is the number 1 fear for most people, putting aside the fear of dying. But with a little practice and some helpful tips, you can master this critical skill. In this blog, I share some best practices when it comes to preparing for a speaking engagement and delivering your presentation with confidence.
Do you get nervous when you have to give a presentation in front of a group? Do your hands shake, your mouth goes dry, and your mind goes blank? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone! In fact, fear of public speaking is often cited as the Number one fear for over 75% of the population. You need not be a part of this statistic. By following these tips, you can learn how to overcome your fear of public speaking and give talks and presentations that engage and inspire your audience and increase your impact and influence.
1. Preparation is essential – Know your topic inside and out
Public speaking can be a daunting task, even for the most experienced speakers. The key to success is preparation. Before you step up to the podium, take the time to get to know two things. Firstly, know your topic inside and out. Be clear on the key points you want to make and be prepared to answer any questions that might come up. Secondly, know your audience. Find out as much as possible about those you will be speaking to. This will put you in a better position to serve them. Consider their needs and expectations, and tailor your message accordingly. By preparing, you’ll give yourself the best chance of making a great presentation or giving a powerful talk.
2. Make an excellent first impression by dressing professionally and arriving on time
Making a good first impression is essential in many situations, including speaking in public or just meeting someone for the first time. There is never a second opportunity to make a good first impression, so it’s important you get it right the first time! There are several things you can do to make an excellent first impression, such as dressing appropriately and arriving on time. First impressions are made within the first few seconds of meeting someone, so it’s essential to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Dressing professionally shows that you’re taking the situation seriously and helps to build trust. It can also help boost your self-confidence and your audience’s confidence in you. Arriving on time shows that you respect your audience’s time and are organised. If you can master making good first impressions, you’ll be sure to set yourself up for success in any situation.
3. Use clear, concise language that everyone can understand
When communicating, it is always essential to ensure the person you are in communication with understands what it is you are communicating. This becomes especially important when speaking in public, as you want to ensure that your audience can follow along and grasp the main points of your talk. There are a few ways to achieve this. Firstly, use simple, clear, everyday language and avoid jargon or technical terms. Secondly, be concise, direct and to the point. Get rid of any unnecessary words or filler phrases. Thirdly, slow down and enunciate your words. You can ensure that your message comes across loud and clear by following these tips.
4. Be aware of your body language
When it comes to communication, remember our words account for only 7% of what our audience believes, our tone accounts for 38% and our body language accounts for 55%. So, our body language accounts for the largest percentage of what we are communicating. Our physical expressions, such as posture, gestures, and facial expressions, convey messages. Although body language is often subconscious, it can have a powerful impact on how others perceive us. For example, speaking with confident body language can make us appear more credible and competent while speaking with negative body language can make us seem nervous or uncomfortable. When speaking in public, it is important that we are aware of our body language and use positive gestures to convey our message. For instance, instead of crossing your arms or fidgeting, to maintain an open stance and make eye contact with your audience. Also keeping a smile on your face, if it is appropriate to do so, depending on what you are talking about, could make your audience warm up to you. Using positive body language can help you effectively communicate your message and make a positive impression on your audience.
5. See yourself Succeeding
The reason most people get nervous when asked to speak in public is they envision all the things that could go wrong and believe it! They imagine everything that could go wrong, from forgetting their words to tripping over and falling as they get up on stage and everything in between. By imagining all of these negative outcomes, they programme their subconscious mind with the idea of failing and because the subconscious mind does not know the difference between what is real and imagined, the body starts to act out what is in the mind, resulting in shaking hands, dry mouth, racing heart and all of the other negative symptoms. Instead of imagining everything going wrong, visualize yourself succeeding, giving a powerful presentation, and visualizing the audience standing up to give you a standing ovation. Remember that everyone in the room is there to listen to what you have to say, so visualize your audience as friendly faces instead of a sea of strangers. Doing this frequently will help you reprogramme your mindset from a failure to a success mindset and help you lose those nerves.
6. Practice, practice, practice!
If you’re looking to improve your speaking skills, there’s no substitute for practice. The more you speak in front of an audience, the more confident and polished you’ll become. And while it’s always helpful to have someone give you feedback on your performance, there’s no need to wait for a formal occasion to get started. Just start practicing whenever and wherever you can. Record yourself giving a practice speech, and then listen back to see how you can improve. You could also try speaking extemporaneously on a topic for a set amount of time, such as two minutes. The goal is to get comfortable speaking off the cuff so that when it comes time for a formal presentation, you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way. So go ahead and start practising today – your future self will thank you for it!
I hope you have found this blog helpful. Please feel free to leave your comments. I would very much love to hear from you.
Remember if you say you can, you are right and if you say you can’t, you are right!
Mary Eniolu – Speaker, Trainer, and Coach
Mary is a solicitor and professional speaker, trainer, and coach. She is the founder of Can Do Academy, a training and development company offering Institute of Leadership and Management approved and CPD accredited training and coaching solutions to individuals and organizations, helping them increase performance and to achieve desired outcomes.