It’s one of the most common fears human beings share across cultures: standing up in front of a group of strangers and giving a presentation or speech. While it comes naturally for a lucky few, most people must overcome their nerves and fears to do it successfully. While there’s no sure-fire, magic wand cure for fear of public speaking, these four tips will give you a strong foundation to succeed.
Cut Out the Negative Reinforcement
People in positions of leadership will often stress the power of positive reinforcement. Pepping yourself up is a great way to line yourself up to get what you want. The same works in reverse, too, and it’s a major reason people fear public speaking. They keep telling themselves they’re bad at it!
Instead of saying “I can’t do this,” or “I’m a bad public speaker,” reinforce the positives: “I’m qualified to speak about this,” or “I know my stuff!” Speaking of that…
Know Your Stuff (and the Rest Will Follow)
One of people’s most common fears about public speaking is that they will “bomb,” losing their train of thought, embarrassing themselves in front of leadership, or fail to keep the audience engaged. Fortunately, there’s an easy cure for this: preparation!
If you know the material you’re going to cover inside and out, it’s easy to speak about it authoritatively and confidently. If you’re covering an unfamiliar topic, take the time to research it. If you know what you’re talking about, it’s easy to talk about it.
Practice Makes Perfect
Even members of organizations’ leadership who have a gift for public speaking will tell you that it’s crucial to rehearse! Delivering a presentation or speech is more than simply reading facts or referring to PowerPoint slides on a screen. Great speakers rehearse their scanning of the audience, triangulating their steps to stay active, and their exact motions and interaction with their slides or screens. Practice every nuance and it will be easy to dazzle your audience when it’s go-time!
Pursue Opportunities to Improve
Even the best professional speakers strive to better themselves. Seek out opportunities to improve, whether that means simply giving more speeches and presentations, or joining classes for professionals looking to enhance their speaking abilities.
Public speaking is an integral part of most successful people’s job descriptions. Thinking of it in a positive light, knowing your material, practicing your performance, and striving to improve will help make you a master.