The audience expectantly wait for you to speak. As you move towards centre stage, you are feeling confident and prepared. You deliver your speech in a clear, confident voice, enjoying the topic and the reaction of the audience, feeling ready for questions. But this isn’t the same experience for everyone. This blog will give you top tips for confident public speaking.
Fear of public speaking
But for those with a fear of public speaking, it is a different experience. Maybe this has applied to you? top tips for confident public speaking
Maybe starting to feel short of breath or dizzy – maybe the start of a full blown panic attack is looming.
An urge to run from the stage (or perhaps never get anywhere near to start with).
What thoughts might be going through your mind?
Will my voice hold out?
I can’t do this?
Everyone will laugh?
I will look stupid?
Its not just public speaking on stage that can be a problem. It can extend into job interviews, answering the phone, dealing with customer services. Speaking skills are essential to being able to get on in business.
Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. The word glossophobia comes from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread. Many people only have this fear, while others may also have social phobia or social anxiety disorder. Wiki.com
Top tips for confident public speaking
- Set the timer and keep talking to the mirror or camera for a couple of minutes – and when you have that sorted – make it 5, 10, 15 minutes. Get used to hearing your voice out loud! It doesn’t matter what you talk about – just talk!!
- Practice – Practice – Practice! – being confident in the information you are delivering will help steady your nerves on the day.
- Talk into a camera / video phone and record yourself doing your speech.
- Get somebody else to watch you speak and help structure your thoughts.
- Make sure you are confident and happy with any computer or flip chart use. If the power point fails you – can you deliver a speech without it. Check there is ink in the pens, and that there is enough paper. Can you get somebody else to operate the computer or do the writing? Basics – but stops a build up of stress when you get on stage.
- Keep sentences simple, and message concise. Think about the audience and what they need from you. Using words that don’t comfortably trip off your tongue will increase pressure on the day.
- Even the professionals have cue cards. Don’t turn it into a memory test if you don’t need to.
So if a fear of speaking in public affects you – what practical measures can you take?
During the speech
- Learn to breath – calm breathing sends a message to your brain that all is well – and your body will then feel calmer. Controlling your breathing means that you will be able to deliver your message in a steadier voice.
- If you begin to panic whilst on stage – stop talking and just take a couple of slow breaths. This will let your brain slow down whilst you gather your thoughts. Working on your breathing will help your voice resonate more.
- If the computer fails you – stop trying – or ask someone else to help. The audience will be on your side, and sympathising with you.
- Smile! Even if you don’t feel like smiling. It sends a message to the audience that you want to be there, and they will relax as they listen. Plus it sends a message to your brain that the rest of your body language can relax.
- Focus on the material – not the audience.
After the event
- Accept the congratulations – not everyone can stand up and make a speech, so if someone says well done – believe that they mean it!
- Ask for honest feedback on what you did well, and where you can improve. Make sure you listen to the compliments and let it build your confidence.
And above all – have pride in yourself. You overcame your fear and did it!
Mark Twain on public speaking