I recently started a new activity that I really enjoy. But there is one thing that was difficult for me to deal with at the beginning. I didn’t know how to overcome my fear of public speaking. The fact is that once a month I have to perform in front of a large number of people, and in the beginning it was very difficult for me to cope with my nervousness. At first I was not sure of myself. My voice trembled a lot during the performances, and I was very nervous. But thanks to certain techniques and practices, the fear began to go away little by little. And now I am performing much better. Although, I still cannot call myself a professional speaker. But I have acquired certain knowledge that I want to share with you.
Everyone gets nervous before public speaking
The fear of public speaking is one of the most powerful fears. The thing is that we are too dependent on the opinions of others. We are afraid to forget words, fail and look ridiculous. But in this case, you need to understand that few people give the perfect speech and know how to speak professionally. To do this, you need to have a lot of experience and good training.
Also, if you focus on the fact that your current success in life or your future professional career depends on the given performance. Then you create additional pressure on yourself, which only exacerbates your anxiety. You need to understand that even those people who look confident on stage and perform well enough are also nervous and worried before the performance. They just learned to hide it well.
For few people, public speaking is easy and natural. And for most of us, getting over the fear of public speaking takes practice and good preparation. It is as if you are learning another language or gaining a new professional skill. Winston Churchill, widely known as an outstanding orator, spent at least an hour preparing every minute of his speech. Therefore, with proper preparation, and using simple techniques to counteract our nerves, we can improve our public speaking skills and boost our self-confidence.
How to overcome fear of public speaking
1. Prepare in advance for your presentation
Public speaking is the culmination of a well-prepared process and rehearsal for your presentation. The better prepared you are, the less you worry about failing. Think about the work the actors are doing in preparation for the performance. They spend days and nights practicing their voice and memorizing text. By approaching public speaking in the same way that actors do, you shift your focus from worry to preparation. And the better prepared you are, the more focused you will be on your message. And the less you will be distracted by your fear. Remember that an insufficiently trained person is more nervous than an overtrained person.
Pay special attention to the correct start of speech. Adjust the starting tempo and volume of your voice. Doing this will help you get an idea of your performance and its pace. We naturally speak faster when we are nervous. But this is difficult to determine until you hear yourself. This is why practice is needed. Slowing down your speech will increase your control over what you say. And it will help you control your voice more clearly. Which will directly affect the audience, and fuel their perception of your confidence.
2. Bring your body to a calm state
Staying calm will help you overcome your fear of public speaking. There are a variety of sedation techniques that can reduce anxiety. One of these techniques is deep breathing in and out. It relaxes you and helps you calm down a little. Take a few deep breaths when you start to feel nervous. And for some people, various statements and visualizations help to calm down. Before the event, people tell themselves that they are confident. That they are well enough prepared that their performance will be successful. It actually works when we instill certain things in ourselves by repeating them regularly.
It is imperative that you accept the position of a confident speaker. So that the listeners trust you unconditionally. This should not be confused with defrauding your audience. It simply means being confident and truthful that you know what you are talking about.
3. Think about body language
What you do with your body is as important as what you say. Correct posture and correct gestures will help you look confident and sound natural. Practice standing up straight and not slouching. With your legs slightly apart, let your shoulders and arms relax. Try not to gesture too much with your hands or fidget with your legs. Before performing, look at yourself in the mirror. And practice your performance by observing your hands and body position.
4. Look for more opportunities to speak
I think you have already figured out that one of the most effective ways to overcome the fear of public speaking is practice. The more experience you gain, the more confidence you will gain. Seeking and creating opportunities to speak – empowers you to practice what you have learned and become better at it. In addition, it will help you use your own experience to further improve your public speaking skills. And the more often you speak, the more you understand. That a good speech is a combination of a noble intention to inform or inspire the audience. As well as positive thinking and a lot of preparatory work. Start giving presentations with small groups of people or with your friends. And gradually go to a higher level.
5. Make eye contact with the audience
Instead of vaguely looking at the crowd. Try making short eye contact with individual audience members. This will help you connect with your audience. And you will see that people are really listening to you. This also comes with practice. But you must develop good eye contact. Since it means that you are talking and communicating with the audience on an individual level. You’re not talking to the ceiling, floor, or presentation slides. Although, slides help you collect your thoughts. But then you should definitely switch to the audience. Focused eye contact will help convey your message to your audience. And it will make the performance more comfortable.
Also, don’t forget to get to know your audience. If the same people are usually present at each presentation, try to create individual connections. Being able to see some familiar faces can make your presentation more relaxed. And you will be able to maintain eye contact with them. Just don’t forget about the rest of the people in the room.
6. Use the right words and remember to use pauses
There are several things that have a big impact on the listener. And one of them is a well-timed pause. A pause that follows the touching story you just shared. Or behind a key point in your message. The pause should not be long, 2-3 seconds is more than enough. Let the listener digest your words, or write down important information that you said.
Think about the words you use so that they are understandable and the phrases easy to understand. Be succinct and to the point. Don’t use difficult words that not everyone can understand. You come forward to bring awareness and understanding. So there is no need to complicate things. Speak in simple terms and do it sincerely.
How to manage your nervousness
If you want to overcome your fear of public speaking, then you must learn to control your nervousness. Get the sleep you need a few days before your performance. Allow enough rest time to fully unwind. Eat a healthy diet with minimal alcohol consumption. Get involved in sports and exercise. This is a great way to release endorphins. Which will make you feel more relaxed by burning your nervous energy. You can even go to the gym on the day of your presentation and do a little workout or go for a light jog.
Use meditation and various mindfulness techniques. They will help you focus on your thoughts and remember information better. Find somewhere quiet just before you speak. And take a few minutes to focus on your breathing, calm down and slow your heart rate. Repeat the exercise for 5 seconds just before you start speaking. And if you find yourself getting nervous again, don’t be afraid to take a short break, drink some water, and catch your breath.