This post I put before you as a public service of sorts. Whether you believe it or not…and I really don’t care, the number one fear for a majority of people is speaking in front of…PEOPLE. That seems ironic right? A vast majority of people are scared to speak to a large group of people who have the same fear as they do. Pretty weird huh?
Anyway, so how about I provide you with some tangible and reliable suggestions on how to alleviate that fear of flying? I mean fear of public speaking. Let me give you more than a “tip” I was given years ago – imagine all the members of the audience are either naked or wearing underwear. Okay, unless my subject matter is humorous this doesn’t help because this just makes me laugh…on the outside. Or it can prove to be very distracting.
I have used many of the following tips in the past, and these tips can prove to be very effective. In an article by Lenny Laskowski (1996), Laskowski suggests 10 steps to alleviate public speaking anxiety.
- Know the room. Become familiar with the place in which you will speak. Walk around the room including the speaking area. Stand on the spot where you will be speaking. Speak into the microphone if you will be using one. Request a microphone check.
- Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive and talk with them.
- Know the material. Practice the speech until you are able to present the speech with ease.
- Learn how to relax. Sit comfortably with a straight back. Breath in slowly, hold your breath for 4 to 5 seconds, then exhale slowly for 8 to 10 seconds. Relax your facial muscles by opening your eyes and mouth wide, and then close tightly.
- Visualize yourself speaking. When you visualize yourself being successful, you will be successful.
- People want you to succeed. The audience wants the speaker to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining.
- Do not apologize for being nervous. If you mention your nervousness, and apologize for it, you are only drawing attention to your anxiety. If you remain silent, your listeners may not notice that you are nervous.
- Concentrate on your message. Concentrate on what needs to be presented.
- Turn nervousness into positive energy. Transform the nervous energy into vitality and enthusiasm.
- Gain experience. Experience builds confidence. Confidence is gained with each speech.
My personal goals for improving the delivery of a presentation would be as follows:
- Be familiar with the material of the speech. The more familiar the presenter is with the material, the better the speech will be. Therefore, the subject of the speech will be easier for the audience to understand.
- Use visual aids efficiently and supportively. Utilize visual aids to display your main points. Visual aids help support facts and statistics, and encourage the audience to remain involved.
- Being well-prepared and concentrating on the message will help you “harness” nervous energy and turn it into enthusiasm.
- Concentrate on not mumbling or speaking too fast.
- Seek to have good eye contact with the audience.
- Vary your voice and tone to keep the presentation exciting for the audience. This would be what some refer to as dynamic range.
- Enhance the message of your speech with body language. In other words, avoid being rigid on stage.
Take these tips to heart and memorize them. Putting these strategies into practice will definitely make you an improved and more confident public speaker.
Anonymous (1991 May). Ten Commandments of Client Presentations. [2 pages]. Consultant News. Available: http://www.strategiccomm.com/tencmmpres.html
Beaver, D. (1999 August). Try Aerobics at the Podium. [3 pages], American Bankers Association Banking Journal. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
Endicott, J (1999 June). If Disaster Strikes on Stage, Stay Focused and Be Creative. [3 pages]. Presentations. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
Laskowski, L. (1996). Overcoming Speaking Anxiety in Meetings and Presentations. [3 pages], LJL Seminars. Available: wysisyg://14/http://www.ljlseminars.com/anxiety.htm
Laskowski, L. (1997). Speech preparation As A Process. [2 pages], LJL Seminars. Available: wysisyg://40/http://www.ljlseminars.com/speech.htm
Laskowski, L. (1997). Using Visual Aids As Notes. [2 pages], LJL Seminars. Available: wysisyg://27/http://www.ljlseminars.com/visuals.htm
Nelson, M and Nelson, S. (1999 May). What? Me Speak in Public: What If Somebody Sees Me. [7 pages]. Hospital Materiel Management Quarterly. Available: http://proquest.umi.com