Yes, all eyes are on you, but people are kinder than you think…
Whether you’re giving a presentation or opening an exhibition, speaking in public can be one of the scariest things you’ll ever do. It’ll fill your head with a million-and-one questions: What if I fail? What if they laugh at me? What if I get stuck? What if they think I’m a loser? What if I trip and fall?
In the great words of Erin Hanson: “Oh, but, my darling, what if you fly?”
Embrace the nerves: Yes, speaking in public is scary but those feelings can and will actually work to your advantage. Human beings are designed to excel under stress, so remember that your body and mind are actually guiding you to succeed. So, embrace the nerves and take deep breaths.
Be Prepared: Hey, if you’re going to go out there and wing it, then there’s a big chance you’ll fail. Make sure you know your presentation or subject well, and break it down into different sections so you can remember what you have to say. Practice it a couple of times, and experiment with things like body language and tone of voice.
Get Personal: Charisma is the art of drawing people in, making them feel comfortable, and inspiring them, and there’s nothing more charismatic than getting personal. See, people are more inclined to like someone they can share a connection with, and nothing establishes that connection more than a funny anecdote or a well-timed personal reference.
Make Jokes: Most people – including entrepreneur Richard Branson and singer Adele – have a fear of public speaking, so rest assured that your audience understands your nerves. Making a joke about how nervous you are can actually help break the ice and put you at ease, so go for it… Just make sure it’s not too corny!
Ask for Feedback: Some people are born able to transfix a crowd and others aren’t, but that doesn’t mean that the latter can never excel at public speaking. Learn to ask for feedback and to take it on board. Use what people tell you to better your body language, your speech and your intonation.
The most important lesson of them all is that so long as you don’t start insulting everyone mid-speech, then even if you do fail or forget things, most people forget as much as they will forgive. So don’t be too hard on yourself, okay?
Do you have any more advice on how to overcome the fear of public speaking?
Let us know in the comments section below.