Many people are afraid of speaking in public. On the list of common phobias, it ranks right up there with fear of spiders, heights and small spaces. The fear can produce a number of effects ranging from sweaty palms and slight nervousness to a pounding heart and paralyzing panic, but it can be overcome with persistence and preparation.
Don't let your nerves stand in the way of making a speech in public. Instead, follow these tips to become a more confident speaker.
Know Your Material
Speaking about a topic you are interested in and understand well is far easier than winging it with new information. Learn as much as you can about your subject so that if you get off track or make a mistake, you can rely on your knowledge to bring you back into focus quickly.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Run through your complete presentation as often as you can. Practice in the shower, on your daily commute, in front of friends and family and in front of a mirror. Record yourself with a video camera so you can find opportunities for improvement, or make a voice recording that you can listen to throughout the day to refresh your memory. The more you practice, see and hear your presentation, the better.
Know the Room
Check out the presentation space before you speak. If possible, arrive early to scope out the stage or speaking area, make sure the audio/visual system is working and practice using the microphone.
Remember to Breathe
Deep breathing before your presentation can be very calming. Before you step up to the podium, take a few deep, slow breaths to ease your nerves.
Focus on Your Material
The audience is more interested in your information, not your delivery. Remember that they are rooting for you to succeed, and they won't judge you for being nervous. In fact, they likely won't even notice any mistakes you make. Take a cue from them and stay focused on your material, not the way you are presenting it.
Don't Memorize, but Don't Read Either
A presentation is not a theater performance, and it is not a reading either. If you memorize your entire speech word-for-word and forget a section, you'll feel flustered and struggle to find the right words to bring yourself back on track. If you have the entire thing written out, the temptation to read may be too strong to avoid. Find a happy medium between the two by memorizing key points and writing down an outline of your presentation. You'll come off as a more natural speaker and be less likely to make mistakes.