As a professional in your field, it is likely that at some point you will be asked to speak to a group of people.
You may be asked to provide them valuable information about what you do or the steps they can take to enhance their own quality of life. While this is good because it means that your expertise is valued, the idea of standing before a crowd can leave your knees shaking and your heart racing.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease your fears of public speaking so you can share your message in a much less frightening way. In Confessions of a Public Speaker1, author Scott Berkun shares a number of tips designed to help you get over your butterflies and deliver a speech your audience will remember (in a good way). Here are a few tips to consider:
Practice, practice, practice
Sometimes the jitters occur because you’re unfamiliar with your material. However, if you take the time to practice what you’re going to say, you become more comfortable and some of your fears will dissipate. In order to get the biggest benefit, imagine that your audience is right in front of you and you are actually delivering the speech. The more real you make it in your mind, the better prepared you will be the day of the public speaking event. Stop practicing when you can get through the presentation material with relatively few hiccups.
Don’t memorize your speech
While you certainly want to have an outline of the points you want to make, and even a strong idea of what you want to say, memorizing your speech word for word can make your words lifeless and lacking in energy. Plus, you may find that you stumble if you forget a certain phrase, leaving you standing there speechless as your audience just stares at you. Therefore, practice focusing primarily on the message versus trying to remember the exact words to say and when.
Visit the venue beforehand
It may help squash your sense of fear once you visit the venue and can see exactly where you’ll be delivering your speech. Essentially, this helps you remove the unknown factors by seeing what you have to work regarding the room space and size for that event. Additionally, get up on stage or at the front of the audience area if there isn’t a stage so you know what it feels like before the actual day of the speech.
Greet the guests as they arrive
The day of your speech, hang out at the doorway and say hello to the people who are attending. That way, when you’re standing before them, you feel more like you’re standing before friends as opposed to facing off with complete strangers. This can do a lot to calm your nerves.
By doing these four things, you’ll likely feel calmer and more in control, making your public speaking event more enjoyable than dreadful.
1. Berkun, S. (2010). Confessions of a Public Speaker (p. 18-23). Sebastopol, Canada: O’Reilly Media.