For many people, even the mention of “public speaking” can cause crippling anxiety. Even the most confident of executives can find themselves crumbling under the pressure. The great news is that if speaking in front of a group of people fills you with fear, sweat and heart-pounding angst, this is something that you can overcome.
Here are 3 easy steps for how to master public speaking and stopping those nerves:
1. Always have enough time to prepare & practice
Once you’re a more seasoned public speaker, it will get much easier to wing it without preparing too much. In the beginning, it really pays off to only commit to engagements that you do have the lead time to get to know your material backwards. Rehearse, several times a day out loud and work out the timings of your speech or presentation. It’s always wise to have back up material too, in case you finish way quicker than you expected too.
2. Avoid common pitfalls & pay attention to the audience
Don’t be that person that gives a business presentation or speech that basically feels like a long monologue filled with pointless PowerPoint slides and tiny bullet points the cheap seats can’t read. You need to be the focal point of the speaking engagement and then use videos or visuals sparingly but to great effect i.e. when you need to land a point or deep dive a topic. Try to time these as moments to also re-engage the audience, make them relate to what you’re showing them, ask questions and interact with their responses.
3. Use coping mechanisms for physical fear responses
Firstly, if you know your material cold then you’ve already won. Now it’s just time to conquer the fear response that your inexperience with public speaking is inevitably going to invoke in you. In the days leading up to the engagement treat your body kindly. Eat healthily, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep and some exercise helps too.
In the last minute leading up to your public speaking, employ a trick that many professional athletes and performers use to calm those butterflies. Take the minute to do some deep-belly breathing, vocal warm-ups and deep visualization of a positive outcome.
Once all is said and done, including a few hiccups or mistakes, it’s important to remember that overcoming this fear takes practice. At the end of the day, always ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” Over time, the addiction to nailing a speech or presentation will far outweigh the slight tingle of nerves that keep you on your toes just before. Try to enjoy the process as much as possible!