Ten ways to beat the public speaking blues

Giving a presentation or speech is not only an honor but can provide the speaker with numerous benefits. It can provide recognition, serve a marketing purpose, build credibility, develop confidence, and much more. With so many positive outcomes then why is there such a negative connotation surrounding public speaking? Fear! Numerous studies on fears have indicated that fears of public speaking always tops the list of most feared things, often even above death. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out and joked on this fact that many attendees of a funeral would rather be in the casket versus delivering the eulogy.

Suzy Fielders, Across the Horizons President, presenting at Coker College

The absolute best way to bet the fear of public speaking is to be prepared on every level prior to giving a speech or presentation. Below are 10 tips to public speaking preparation.

  1. Develop a mission statement for your talk. When drafting your speech anything that doesn’t relate to this mission statement should not be used.
  2. If possible find out who the members of the audience will be at least demographics wise as well as the size. Knowing your audience will help you deliver a speech that is most relevant to them.
  3. Research the room in which you will be presenting. This helps with planning your visuals as well as how and where to have eye contact at throughout your speech.
  4. Outline and write your talk while keeping it organized around 2 or 3 central points. Always let your passion about the topic shine through in your speech.
  5. Try to keep the speech as engaging as possible. Use enlightening facts or statistics, appropriate humor, quotations, and the power of comparison/contrasting.
  6. Visuals are a must but just like with over practicing there can be ‘over-kill’. Also, make sure to chose a visual appropriate to your audience and topic. For instance, flip charts are wonderful for interactive presentations but not so wonderful for large groups. Power point is a very popular and useful visual just do not write out your speech on slides, stick with only putting major points, pictures or video clips.
  7. Practice but don’t over practice. Ideally four to five times is more than enough. Practicing not only allows you to be confident in working out your speech jitters but will also allow you to see any overused gestures or breaks in flow in your speech.
  8. Dress to impress, but do so comfortably. There is nothing worse than giving a speech in uncomfortable shoes or clothes; this also doesn’t help the nerves. Typically business casual is the safest bet.
  9. Get to the room where you will be presenting early. This allows for you to get situated, test out any audio-visual technologies, potentially meet members of the audience, and time to focus and calm your nerves.
  10. Keys to staying calm – breathe, keep a photo of a child or pet taped onto your script or podium for reassurance, remind yourself the talk with only last for a certain amount of finite time after that it will all be done, smile, act confident (if you act it then you’ll actual start feeling that way) and lastly remember the audience is there to listen to your ideas and notions on a topic not rooting for you to fail!

These are just some of many tips to preparing for and giving a presentation. If you still feel unprepared or want additional help please contact us about our speech coaching and presentation services.

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