Public speaking can be scary. Whether you’re a student presenting in front of your class or a well-established professional sharing your experience with others, speaking in front of other people can be a nerve-racking experience. Luckily, there are several things you can do to make the experience less scary.
This is perhaps the most important thing that you can do. The more you have practiced, the less you will have to worry about what you are going to say. Give your presentation repeatedly. Practice what you are going to say, how you are going to stand, and hand gestures you are going to include in your presentation. If you are going to be moving around while speaking, be sure to rehearse that way.
When possible, it is a good idea to present at least a portion of your speech or presentation in front of a small group. Family members and friends might be willing to play the part of your initial audience. They can offer constructive criticism, which will allow you to make any needed changes, so you can feel better prepared for your big day.
Avoid Just Reading
When you get nervous, it might become tempting to just stare at your speech and read it word-for-word. If you’ve practiced enough, you will know what you want to say so well that small notes or other reminders will likely be enough to keep you on track.
While it is important to practice, you should also be ready to go off script, especially when giving an interactive presentation. If you are ready to be flexible, you will be less likely to be thrown off if things do not go as you anticipated.
Very few speeches and presentations go exactly as planned. Whether it’s a mispronounced word or a member of the audience whose bored face throws you off, things likely won’t go exactly as you expect, no matter how well you have prepared.
If you expect those mistakes, you can laugh them off (even if it’s not until after your presentation is over). Expecting mistakes allows you to feel less scared when you do make a mistake or two. In general, people are understanding, and in many cases, most of your audience will not even realize that you’ve made a mistake.
Allow Your Passion to Show
Often, when you are speaking in public, you are going to be talking about a topic that you feel strongly about. Allow that passion to show. Even if it’s an assigned topic for school, you can likely find a way to let your interests show in your speech.
When your audience sees your sincerity for the topic, they are likely to be more interested, which leads to a happy or captivated audience. As you realize that your audience is enjoying your presentation, you can feed off their enthusiasm, which often calms your nerves.
It is important to realize that while these tips will help you feel less nervous when public speaking, they aren’t going to solve the problem right away. The key is really repeated practice.
The more you speak in front of people, the more comfortable you will become. While the nervousness may never go away completely, you may find yourself feeling a little more comfortable each time that you have to speak publicly. Just remember to take a deep breath, and good luck on your presentation.
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