Somehow, you’ve suddenly found yourself responsible for giving a speech! Don’t fret; you can learn how to overcome the fear of public speaking.
While some people seem to have a natural propensity for public speaking, no one is exempt from nervousness.
What can you do? There are specific action steps you can take to help alleviate your nerves, even if you’ve never stood in front of a group of people before.
Having a well-practiced speech will give you confidence. You’re the expert on this material, after all, or you wouldn’t be speaking in the first place.
Here are some things you can do to help you get through your presentation:
- Be prepared. The best thing to do to help you overcome your fear of speaking is to be prepared! Once you know your material and have your speech ready, you’re ready to prepare for the final part – speaking.
- Practice making your presentation so you can get into a rhythm and know how the presentation will flow. Say your speech aloud to practice difficult words or names and to time yourself.
- If you have other presenters, practice as a group and be open to feedback from others.
- Practice using any slides or power point presentations you’ve included in your speech.
- Strengthen your presentation. There are simple things you can do to make your speech go from ordinary to extraordinary.
- Making eye contact, pausing at certain points, and having visual aids are things that will bring your speech up a notch. Learning these things ahead of time and including them in your practice sessions will alleviate some nerves.
- Find one or two things to focus on the first time you speak. Very few people make the perfect speech every time so the key is to learn from each presentation to make future speeches even better.
- Be proud of doing your best. Keep in mind that everyone who speaks gets nervous ahead of time, some more so than others. Once you consider you aren’t alone in your feelings, it makes it easier to deal with them.
- Refrain from comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone better and someone worse than you. Just do your personal best and be happy that you’ve given it your all.
- Find a mentor, or someone who is more experienced in public speaking, to ask advice. Learn from their mistakes.
- Practice speaking in public. If you’re going to be speaking frequently, you can find ways to get more practice.
- Take a class on public speaking, or volunteer at a community organization. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
- If you care about animals, kids, or social issues, there are many venues for you to speak, go find a local club or school and volunteer your time.
- Start off small. Practice speaking in a classroom full of children first. Read aloud during religious services at your place of worship. If you have a favorite hobby, volunteer to teach a class about that hobby at your local library.
Don’t worry about how perfect your speech is. In six months, it won’t matter. What will matter is that you’ve done your best, improved, and possibly inspired one person with your words. That’s what it’s all about, anyway.
Marsha Guerrier is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, business analyst, business coach, and CEO of HerSuiteSpot®, a MWBE and SBE certified small business consulting and coaching agency that provides online and in-person support to early stage female founders looking to accelerate their business.