Public speaking is one of the most common fears. There are different ways to classify fear, but several reports ranging from 25% to 75% of the population has a fear or discomfort of public speaking. Whether you are guiding a meeting or event client through the presentation process or having to present to a group yourself, there are several things you can do in advance and during speaking to help decrease your anxiety.
Prior To Public Speaking:
- Obtain as many details as possible. If you’ve been asked to present at say, a conference workshop, set yourself up for success to understanding all that you can about your audience, AV set up, number of attendees, etc. The more you know, the fewer the surprises.
- Practice makes perfect. This sounds quite obvious, but it really helps. The more familiar you become with the information, the more comfortable you’ll be presenting it to groups both large and small.
- Act as critic. Record yourself, and/or present to others. You’ll get a lot of the “kinks” out of your presentation. While you may not be eager to welcome critiques or criticisms of your delivery or your content, understanding your areas of improvement are key.
Day of the Presentation:
- Arrive early, have a printed copy of your materials in case an A/V glitch occurs. Bring water. If you get nervous, do something calming before you present.
- Expect the unexpected. In most cases, people have no idea if you forgot a little bit of content, a slide is out of order, etc. Just go easy on yourself and be flexible.
- Again, practice helps. You still may feel flushed or shake until you calm down. Do what you can do control this. Wear cooler clothing, don’t drink any caffeine prior to presenting, and practice breathing to calm yourself.
- If you can do so naturally, use humor and/or incorporate personal stories into your presentation. One of the best ways to ease stage fright and bond with the audience at the same time is to open with a personal story. People don’t expect it.