For most presenters, the biggest challenge is overcoming public speaking fears. The fear of public speaking can be so strong that you might be looking for the nearest closet where you can hide! Calming nerves is essential to speaking success, so here are some tips to put you back in control:
1. Take a deep breath.
A couple of minutes before you are going to be introduced, start deep breathing: breathe in slowly, count to three, breathe out. Continue doing this until you are introduced, and if you feel nervous mid-speech, you can repeat this every time you change your presentation focus.
2. Move around.
Nerves make you jittery, and this nervous tension affects your muscles too. Your feet want to move, so let them! As you prepare your text, write a note to move across the stage or to turn to the other side of the podium each time you start a new segment. You can also try moving your hands around to minimize the urge to start trembling.
3. Be prepared.
Before your presentation, look at the physical set-up of your room. Actually walk through being called to the podium, moving around the platform, and getting off. Also prepare in advance how you’re going to keep track of time. Be ready for changes in program time, people and content. Have a plan for them. Finally, test and set out all your props as much ahead of time as possible. Carry extra batteries, bulbs and cords for electronics, and be prepared to go without them in extreme cases.
4. Use your props as memory tags.
Line up your props on a table, then pick each one up as it leads you through your speech. This is a great way to help you get back on track if you lose your place in the middle of your presentation.
5. Use your flip chart or blackboard as a place to write your outline in advance.
Cover the individual items, then either remove the covering paper on the blackboard or turn to the new flip chart page to remind you of the next section of your presentation. You can also use PowerPoint to help you through your presentation, but don’t rely too heavily on it.
6. Practice your opening.
This is the one area of your speech we recommend you actually memorize, so you can start confidently. The opening has always been a major hurdle in overcoming public speaking fears. Once you get started, you’ll find that you just keep rolling.
7. Don’t panic if you skip something.
Remember that no one else knows what you had planned to say, so it doesn’t matter if you forget something or get examples out of order.
Try these calming methods to help overcome your public speaking fears. You will give a much more more enjoyable and effective presentation.