Speaking is a natural action that usually comes easy to most people. While many folks can happily jabber away with friends for hours, when it comes to speaking in front of an audience, they suddenly freeze up.
Public speaking is something everyone has to do at some point. You might have to give a presentation at college, deliver a speech at your best friend’s wedding, or emcee a company event. Good elocution boils down to confidence: if you believe you can do it, you probably can.
Here are some tips to help you conquer your fears, so you can get out there and speak your truth!
1. Practise, practise, practise
Maybe you wrote your own speech, or maybe someone else wrote it for you. Regardless, always practise speaking it out loud several times before your actual presentation.
Recognise difficult words or tricky turns of phrase that might slow you down or be particularly difficult to pronounce. If you’re making a funny speech, emphasise the punchlines and joke delivery.
If possible, deliver your speech to an actual audience – friends or family are best – and see how they respond. For extra, more professional guidance, you might want to consider attending groups such as the Toastmasters.
2. Know your environment
- Learn as much about the circumstances of your speech as possible:
- How many people will be attending?
- Where in the room will you be standing?
- Will there be a microphone or a speaker’s stand?
- How will the tone of the event be, and would humour be appropriate?
- Are there topics you shouldn’t touch?
If possible, visit the location of your speech beforehand and get to know the place well. Then, before your speech, take some deep breaths. Go to the washroom, or drink some water if you need to.
Make one final check to make sure your appearance is presentable (don’t forget your fly)! Then get out there where the podium, and audience, await.
3. Remember: you are worthy
The mere fact that you have been invited to speak means someone trusts you and believes you have something worthy to say.
Tell yourself: what you have to say is important, and people are waiting to hear it. You are the best possible person to deliver this message, and will do a terrific job at it.
Believe that the audience wants you to succeed. They want to enjoy your speech, or they wouldn’t be sitting there listening to you. Most people also know it’s not easy to speak in public, and will respect you for doing so.
Also remember that audiences usually don’t know what you are going to say. So, even if you make minor mistakes, they will have no idea. Most listeners just want to be entertained or informed for a while, applaud, and then move on to the next item on the itinerary.
So deliver your speech, and enjoy the process.
4. You’re not nervous, you’re excited
Feeling jittery? Don’t think of it as being scared. Reframe these feelings as excitement. You’re about to tell these people something that will blow their minds, and you can’t wait!
You’ll be surprised how often this simple little psychological trick works.
5. Remember: it’s not that bad
Sometimes, even after all possible preparations, something still goes wrong. Maybe you badly mispronounced someone’s name. Maybe you tripped on stage, or made jokes no-one understood.
That’s okay, it happens. If you made a mistake, apologise, then quickly move on. Most of the time, your mess-up is not as bad as you think, and audience members will usually forget before the night is over.
As long as you are not seen as being deliberately offensive, you will likely be forgiven. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. All the best for your next public speech!