As human beings, we are all afraid of something. Whether it be heights, clowns, needles or anything in between, there is something that instills absolute dread in our bodies. Believe it or not, but one of the most common fears in the world is social anxiety. While social anxiety can take on many different forms, the most common example is fear of public speaking. Some people look upon a stage of individuals and freeze. These fears may feel impossible to overcome, but they are not. In order to succeed, it is important that we overcome these fears so that they do not control us.
With that being said, as someone who has given many public speeches, I’ve decided to offer some tips and tricks on how to overcome that fear, and speak publicly with courage and fearlessness.
Whether you’ve been asked to speak at your college graduation or on a TED Talk panel, you need to know your stuff. If this requires hours of preparation, then you need to put in that time. Do not let laziness get the better of you. You need to know the ins-and-outs of whatever your topic is. If you’ve been asked to speak at any public function, chances are you were chosen for a reason. You may not realize it, but you exude some form of grace, knowledge and wisdom. Use that to your benefit and present it. Knowing your subject will give you the power to speak confidently and intelligently.
Another big part of preparation is knowing what you will say. If you’re being asked to write a speech, this is easy. You simply take the time to write what you truly feel, and read over it again, and again and again. No matter how many times you’ve read through your speech, you should always give it another look. Make sure to read out loud as well. Don’t rely on your inner thoughts. Speak out loud and listen to yourself. See if what you are saying sounds accurate and grammatically correct.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you feel uncomfortable giving a public speech, the best advice I can give is to tell you to practice. If you are unfamiliar with any part of your speech, content or subject by the time you take the stage, then how can you expect to give a convincing presentation to a whole crowd of people?
Practicing your speech alone can help you get your wording and stage presence down, but giving a faux speech to a few trusted friends will give you an extra advantage. It doesn’t need to be a room full of people, but grab five friends or so and practice your speech. Get their feedback. Ask them what your strengths are; ask them where you could improve; get a sense of what they felt when you were speaking. Then, take that criticism and use it to better your presentation.
Create a Structure
The worst kinds of speeches are those that seem to go on for minutes without any real introduction, body or conclusion. Giving a speech is very much like writing an essay; you need to introduce your subject, offer information and provide a strong conclusion. Understand your main points and continuing to hit them over the course of the speech. Create an overarching theme.
Know Your Audience
Your audience is just as important as you are. They decide how well your speech will go and they determine the mood of your presentation. Are they a serious bunch or do they have a lighthearted side? Get a feel for the audience demeanor and see how you can utilize that to your advantage.
Again, if you’ve been chosen to speak, you are probably looked at as something of an authority or important figure. Use that to your advantage. Be confident in your knowledge and in what you are saying. Know your script, stick to it, be simple and try your hardest to relax. If you follow these rules, you’ll be successful.