Public speaking anxiety affects most of us to some degree but for many the thought of standing up in front of a group of people fills them with absolute fear and terror. Even the thought of walking up to the podium and the fear of everyone watching their every move can send them into a blind panic to the point that they will find every reason not to do it.
Public speaking anxiety is one of the most common phobias – it even has a name, it’s officially called glossophobia a derivative of the Greek words glossa, meaning tongue, and phobos, meaning fear. Even the most confident public speak will have anxiety before speaking – it’s completely natural. Watch a few regular speakers – spot the nerves, spot the sweating … it will be there!
A few nerves are actually healthy, it means you’re taking the task seriously and want to deliver a great speech and to impress. It’s therefore important for you to appear confident even if deep inside you may not feel that way initially. Here’s a few tips that may help you overcome your public speaking anxiety:
Research: Take the time to research other important speeches on your subject. The internet has a wealth of recorded speeches so that you can observe how they do it. Focus on the qualities that you liked in their speech and emulate them. Look for qualities such as their ease in speaking, their humor and how they capture the attention of the audience.
Preparation: You won’t be confident if you don’t know you subject so make sure you take your topic, study it in great detail and plan and structure your speech and rehearse – you won’t believe the confidence that a good preparation can give you, the opposite is also true of course.
Enthusiasm: It is very important that you display enthusiasm when you are speaking publicly – how many talks have you sat through trying to stay awake and focused whilst the speaker drones on in monotone. There is no way that you will get others excited about a topic if it seems like you are bored with it. If the topic is one that is a bit more emotionally driven, you have to show them that you care.
Voice Projection: Project your voice when you speak in front of an audience and make sure everyone can hear you ok before you start. This is particularly true if you do not have the benefit of a microphone. You want everyone in the room to be able to hear you, so do not be afraid to speak as loudly as necessary to accomplish that. There is no point in making a speech that most of the audience cannot hear – the ones who can’t will immediately switch off and the atmosphere will deteriorate.
Look At Your Audience: Don’t stare at the floor, the screen or your notes, instead look your audience right in the eye and scan around to show them you’re addressing each and every one of them. Look around the room in a relaxed way. Make eye contact and connect with individuals here and there throughout the audience. This technique will help you engage the audience and make them feel comfortable.
Props: If you’re using a power-point presentation on screen, flip chart or similar props keep the number of slides to a minimum, no more that 15 if possible. Use titles as headlines and not descriptions – don’t simply read you speech off the screen but introduce each subject with a headline the go on to discuss it. Do not use a laser pointer to run over words as you read them from a screen. This gives your audience the idea that you think they are incapable of reading for themselves. Once they begin to feel insulted, it will be much harder for you to convince them to listen to you.
Humour: You will win your audience over if you add a little humor to your speech. There is nothing wrong with trowing in a joke or two and putting a smile on your audience’s faces. However, do not go overboard on the jokes, as your audience will not take you serious. It’s worth considering starting with a bit of a joke if it’s appropriate to your subject – you won’t believe what a little laughter can do to your confidence.
Interaction: Allow the opportunity for questions or comments throughout your speech. They may not remember what they meant to inquire about. Control you presentation but allow people to ask questions at appropriate times throughout the speech. This will really help them appreciate you as a speaker.
Conclusion: To have a truly memorable speech, work on a great ending. There are going to other parts in your speech that are important to your audience, but your final point is what so many people will remember most. A boring ending will make them forget your speech quickly. How many concerts have you been to and how many bands finish with their biggest hits? It’s the same principle here … the grand finale!
Experiencing public speaking anxiety, anxiousness or nerves before and during your time in the spotlight is normal, but it’s also unproductive. Your best bet is to take a more comprehensive approach to public speaking. Before your next engagement, practice following these important guidelines. You will find that your confidence is improved and that you are better able to communicate your message.
Fear Of Public Speaking – Self Help Treatment
Treatment Of Glossophobia: There are also a number of great self help programs that can really make a difference when it comes to public speaking anxiety – Beat Your Fears recommend the Cure Public Speaking Fear program:
Originally put together as a training course for actors and public performers it’s now grown to become recognised as one of the very best resources for anyone with a fear of public speaking. Whether you need it for your job or a single keynote speech … maybe a wedding or some other kind of function, or perhaps you just want to beat your fears … this is the program for you. Find out more at: http://beatyourfears.com/cure-fear-of-public-speaking