If you’re reading this, then you probably share one of the top human fears – giving a speech before an audience. In fact, almost 3 out of 4 people feel anxiety when speaking publicly.
The good news is that this is a phobia that can be reduced! Here are 5 helpful tips on handling speech anxiety.
- Consider all of your ‘firsts’ – many of us got nervous the first time we did anything: drove a car, started a new job, had a first interview, took a big test. Just like public speaking, you got through those anxious ‘first times’ and you can get through a speech in front of a crowd.
- Accept that you will be nervous – you know it’s going to happen. You know what happens to your body when you get nervous. Maybe your hands get clammy or your heart races or you can’t focus. When it happens, tell yourself, “I knew this would happen and it’s OK.”
- Fight the urge to become more nervous – speakers will often sit in their chairs just before they get up to speak and make themselves crazy with anxiety! They have nervous thoughts like, “they will hate my speech” or “this is not going to go well.” If you start having those thoughts, you have to stop them in their tracks! Focus on your introduction or start breathing deeply to calm yourself down.
- Be Prepared – select a topic that you know a lot about. Perhaps you are presenting information about a new software application in the office. Find resources or training classes that are on-line to gather information about the application. Share those resources with your audience so they know where to go, such as “If you would like more information about our new Time Matters system, you can take online classes at LexisNexis University.” Your audience will value the tip you’ve shared and show more interest in the rest of your presentation.
- Practice, practice, practice! – the best way to overcome your speech anxiety is to practice your introduction backwards and forwards. You will be most nervous at the start of your speech when everyone is looking at you. You will go on autopilot and start talking. If your mouth knows what to say, your brain can catch up once you’ve adjusted to being in front of everyone. By the time you get to your first main point, you will be ready to really deliver your speech.