Have you ever faced the following before/during a public speech?
- Accelerated heart rate
- Sweaty palms
- Clenched fists
- Shortness of breath
- Tingling or uneasiness
If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, you are suffering from a very common problem known as speech anxiety. Most people develop speaking phobias in high school and it takes a good few decades to overcome this problem. It becomes even more difficult if you need to speak in a formal setting, such as a seminar or conference.
To overcome public speaking anxiety, you can undertake several physical exercises like deep breathing and relaxation techniques. However, it’s also a fact that half the battle lies in conquering the mental blocks that hinder you from speaking with confidence.
To help you get started on the right track, here’s a roundup of specific tips that will help you deal better with any speaking anxiety:
Meticulous preparation is key to any speech, whether it be delivering a corporate presentation or speaking in a conference or seminar.
Make sure you have done your research on the audience – whether they are academics, the C-suite, mid-level executives or just college graduates.
Prepare your speech/presentation accordingly, keeping in mind the pace and tone of your delivery. In formal settings, a joke or two would suffice, while with a younger audience, you can pepper your speech with anecdotes, quotes and amusing incidents.
Once you have understood what your audience expects and what your messaging should be, your preparation will be on point and your anxiety at the lowest level.
5. Visualizing a positive end-result
When you have to deliver a public speech, always imagine the audience as applauding you when you conclude. This is where the ending becomes really important. Even if you don’t begin well, you need to ensure that the last 5 minutes of your speech flow in an impeccable manner.
Once you start identifying with successful end-results and stay positive, you will find yourself a lot less nervous than you are.
4. Realizing that the audience wants you to succeed
Many people think that the audience is out to get you. Laugh at you, ridicule you and traumatize you with jeers because you stumbled here and there. Nothing could be further from the truth. All audiences want the speakers to be interesting, informative, stimulating and entertaining.
3. Don’t apologize if you are nervous!
Most of the time your nervousness will not show at all. Maybe a shaky voice at the start, but the thing is, if you don’t refer to it, nobody will notice. If you start saying “Oh I am sorry” “I have the heebie-jeebies” et al then you will only be calling attention to yourself.
2. Focus on the content
Your nervous feelings will dissipate when you focus your attention away from your anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience, not yourself.
Remember, if you’re able to speak in a confident and fluent manner, but your content or messaging doesn’t resonate with the audience, then there’s no point of delivering such a speech! Content is king.
1. Control jitters constructively
The same nervous energy that causes stage fright can also be an asset if you let it. Force your body to move by walking as you speak. Use your arms and hands to gesture with vitality and enthusiasm.
Eventually – and this is true – you will seep in the energy of being on the stage and become more confident as you go about your speech.