Do you get cold sweats before a speaking engagement? Have you ever experienced getting panic attacks before a presentation? What about shaking hands and a quavering voice when asked to speak to an audience?
All these are examples of having a fear of public speaking. If you’ve ticked all the items mentioned above, do not worry as you are not alone. There are a lot of people who also experience glossophobia (speech anxiety or the fear of public speaking) and there are those who have gotten over it.
Not everyone is born as a confident public speaker, host, MC or presenter, but you can take steps to rid yourself of the anxiety that comes with speaking in public. Here’s some helpful advice from an experienced MC and copywriter in the UAE.
A Way With Words
There are times in life when you may have to get up and speak to an audience. Whether it is in school, at work, or in social situations, there are instances wherein you have to deliver a speech, give a presentation, or even offer a simple toast of celebration.
For some, stringing words together and delivering them in a captivating way is a walk in the park. Hosting an event, conducting an engaging interview, moderating a debate, or presenting and explaining something to a crowd may be as easy for them as talking to a friend. For others, however, it requires great effort and loads of confidence before they can even bring themselves to utter a single sentence.
It is undeniable that speaking well in front of an audience is a skill that may prove to be advantageous to you. Excellent speaking and presentation skills can be beneficial in several careers, in pursuing your educational goals, or in social interactions. Mastering the art of speaking in public is a valuable tool that can help you in a lot of situations.
When you count yourself among those who have great difficulty when speaking in public, there is still a way for you to overcome this. There are some methods that can help you get over your nervousness and boost your confidence to a level where you can speak well and deliver your message successfully. Here are some useful tips that you can use to get rid of public speaking anxiety:
1. Face Reality
One of the primary steps that you should take is to face reality head-on. Acknowledge that you get nervous and tense when you need to speak in public. Being nervous is not entirely a bad thing. In fact, it can also mean that you care enough to deliver a good speech or presentation.
Use this as fuel for your determination to deliver exactly what you envision. Use this bit of nervousness to do what you can to make your presentation better. Even the most professional public speakers do get a little nervous. Accept the fact that you may experience some jitters, but know that it is normal to feel this way.
However, you should also be wary when your anxiety significantly interferes with your daily life such as dropping out of school or changing courses to avoid speaking in front of a crowd. Changing jobs or declining a promotion may also be an adverse result of extreme fear of public speaking. If your public speaking fears are intense, make sure to visit a psychologist or mental health counsellor to check if you have a social anxiety disorder or some other condition.
2. Prepare Ahead of Time
Make sure that you also prepare ahead of time. Being ready is one of the surest ways to become confident about speaking in public.
If you’re free to choose a topic, then choose one that interests you. If you’re given a topic, do your best to know more about it. Master your topic by doing research or conducting interviews. Be such an authority on the subject that you can efficiently deliver your messages in a knowledgeable way. Know it like the back of your hand so even if there are hecklers who may ask difficult questions, you will be able to address them properly. If you’re an executive, media training may be needed, aside from any public speaking training you may undergo. Being prepared to answer questions from the media at an event is not something you can easily get done on your own.
3. Keep a Healthy Mind and Body
One of the most useful things that you should take note of is to ensure that you are mentally and physically fit. Being in the pink of health will help you focus on what you need to do.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet so you can have the energy that you need. It is best if you can avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before your presentation. You should also try to reduce or refrain from drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and similar brews.
Try to engage in some form of physical activity before your speaking engagement. Aside from helping release endorphins that will make you feel better, it can also help you sleep better and wake up refreshed for your day.
Doing relaxation exercises before your stint can also help. When possible, stand in a comfortable position and try to slowly reach up while keeping your feet planted on the floor. Then, you can carefully bend forward from the waist like a rag doll, bending your knees slightly and letting your head and shoulders hang in a relaxed manner. Slowly get back to standing position and try to relax every muscle in your body.
4. Rehearse and Review
To really get the hang of your public speaking skills, it is best to practice several times before the actual day. Rehearse in front of a mirror or take a video so you can see the areas where you need to improve. Alternatively, you can also invite a trusted friend or family member who can give you constructive feedback.
This is where you can also practice the tone and volume of your voice. You can rehearse which body movement will best fit a particular line or part in your speech as well.
If possible, ask if you can see the venue where you are going to deliver your speech. It would even be better if you can actually practice there so you can familiarize yourself with the stage. If you’re using a rostrum, this will be an opportune time to check the height or placement of the microphone. Technical rehearsals will also be a good time for you to run through your material and check if everything works – slide or video presentations, props, sound effects, and other elements of your presentation.
5. Practice Good Habits
Before you step out of the stage, there are some tricks that can also help you relax. You can practice deep breathing to regulate your heart rate. Drink water to avoid dry throat. Chew gum to get the edge off (but remember to spit it out before you go onstage). You can also use visualization techniques to psych you up, such as thinking positively and visualizing a successful speech. Massaging your forehead will also help activate your speech centre.
While onstage, it’s okay if you have bits of silence in between. Take that chance to breathe deeply and refocus. Tiny pauses can even add impact to your delivery.
You should also make sure to engage your audience. Try to make eye contact, move around the stage, and use hand or body movements. In addition, try to slow down and not “eat” your words. Do not make it about you but instead, make it about the audience. Remember why they came and deliver the message that you are supposed to impart to them.
The Sound of Success
It’s normal to feel a bit jittery when you need to speak to a crowd. Being nervous is a common enough occurrence that a lot of people experience when engaging in public speaking. When you learn to manage your stress about speaking in public by heeding the above-mentioned tips, you can look forward to a more relaxed and successful show.