If you have ever been told to make a presentation or give a speech in front of people and your first reaction was a feeling of panic just know that you are not alone. Most people suffer from a common fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia. A lot of people start sweating and even get weak in the knees when they are supposed to stand in front of people and speak. Even those people who look very composed still have butterflies. It is all a matter of how you choose to deal with the fear. Did you know glossophobia is mostly due to the fact that you are focussing more on your fear of failure? Here are a few tips to help you get over the fear of public speaking.
Make the right preparations.
Learn as much as you can about the topic you are going to talk about. Make sure that before the day of the presentation you are armed with as much information as possible. The importance of this is that you will be confident and that you will not make a fool of yourself, a guaranteed thing with people who do their research before addressing a crowd on a certain topic.
Practice, practice, practice!
Start slow. You could start by practicing in front of a mirror, recording and listening to your voice, then making corrections where you feel like you could make improvements. When you gain some confidence you can then practice on friends and family so they can give you their feedback and encouragement. Just like an athlete prepares before their main day to stretch their muscles, practice your speech giving skills to be perfect. Note that practicing does not mean cramming a whole speech,rather, just getting the main points right. If you recite a speech you will sound unoriginal and boring. Just get your main points and let everything else flow.
Get rid of the perfectionist attitude.
Everyone makes mistakes, people forget. The audience is mostly not even keen on what you are doing wrong, but on what information you have to offer. You could arm yourself with a few jokes or anecdotes to distract the audience as you gather your thoughts. At the end of the day, a well done speech is not one that was done with precision but one that was delivered in a memorable manner.
Show confidence through your actions.
Shaky hands and wobbly knees are a common occurrence when one is giving a speech or presentation. Try walking casually on the stage. Use firm hand gestures and facial expressions to go with what your saying. If you focus on driving your message home you will soon forget about the shaky hands and you will have perfected one of the biggest speech giving skills.
Do not rush.
Your instincts may tell you to rush over your presentation or speech as fast as possible and be done with it, but the best thing to do is compose yourself and slowly go over your points. This way, it is hard to fumble on your words. If you study presidents and great performers, you will notice that they mostly show a calm and composed demeanor when on stage, taking their time to deliver.
Have a positive attitude.
Use words of affirmation before your speech. Encourage yourself instead of telling everyone how scared or anxious you are. Remember, a positive set of mind will give you positive results.
Use other available resources to complement your presentation.
Ask whether there are screens or facilities you can use for a PowerPoint presentation. This will slightly shift the focus from you, giving the audience something else to pay attention to. Do not lean too much on one side, just use both the powerpoint presentation and your explanations in a balanced way. Some people actually read the Slides to the crowd and forget to put in their two cents, which beats the whole purpose of presenting.
Take public speaking classes.
It would help a lot if you got professional help alongside others who have the same problem as you. There are many public speaking courses you could dedicate yourself to, in an attempt to gain as much information as possible on how to deal with glossophobia.
Related article: Tips on how to lose fear of public speaking
Believe it or not, people in the audience would also be scared if they were in your shoes. Instead of judging you, they are mostly rooting for you and focussing on the message you are giving them. Once the initial butterflies have passed, capture their attention, entertain, add value to their lives and conclude with confidence. Great speakers are not born, they are made. With practice and a lot of preparation you will get better. Although the fear of public speaking never really disappears, you will have gained the experience to overcome glossophobia every time you stand to speak.