Getting in front of the class or a group of people to talk about or present something can be nerve wracking. You get those butterflies in your stomach, you sweat, your heart beats faster, your hoping you don’t freeze, you are heavily concerned about not saying the wrong thing or looking foolish, and your worried if your going to throw up in front of everyone. Well I have experienced some of these things in school, college, work, interviews, etc.
At some point we are asked to share or present something in front of people even at a young age (Show and Tell). Some of us love public speaking and some of us don’t. Some people are shy and some aren’t and that’s ok. I’m was mostly a shy person growing up, but I was able to get comfortable with public speaking to where it didn’t scare me as much.
Public speaking has a way of making your fight or flight response go into overdrive. There are people out there who make up an excuse like saying they’re sick just to get out of a presentation or just speaking in front of others. Speaking in front of others means that everyone’s attention is directed at you. Everyone is looking at you and listening to what you have to say; you can say that they’re watching you like a hawk. In your mind, you may be thinking that you can’t mess up doing this or saying this sentence wrong because you may get laughed at, ridiculed, or look embarrassed in front of everyone. Being nervous about speaking in front of people is normal. Hopefully that fact alone makes you feel a little better.
Well here are some ways to help public speaking be not so scary and how you can better handle it:
1. Practice Speaking in Front of Your Mirror
Talking to yourself in front of the mirror can be helpful. You can practice what your going to say without having people watch or judge you. Rehearsing what you’ll do and say will increase your confidence which will decrease the fear. This may be odd to do, but it does work.
2. Have Someone Help You
If talking to mirror isn’t for you, then practice in front of a friend, team member, or family member. You could have these people evaluate how you did and if there are any improvements you can make. If you are in a group, then just focus on presenting your part. Not all team members may do their parts, but you shouldn’t have to take on their responsibilities.
3. Focus on Something or Someone in the Audience
You’ve heard of the saying of imagining the people in the audience in their underwear to relieve the stress, anxiety, and fear of speaking in front of people. Should that not work, find something or someone in the audience to focus your attention on. If you see a table in the background, just focus on that when you are talking and nothing else until you are done. You can also imagine yourself talking to that one person and that you and that person are the only ones in the room. If you are choosing to focus on a person, make sure it’s someone who makes you feel comfortable and supports you.
4. Listen or Watch Something that Excites or Gets You Pumped
Moments before you have to speak in front of people, you start to get scared or get really anxious. Depending on the situation, you may want to try to listen to music or watch a video that relaxes you or gets you pumped up. These methods can distract you from the fact that you are about to engage in public speaking. A distraction and re-shifting your focus on something you enjoy can help lower your stress level and help better focus your attention on the material you are about to present.
5. Rehearse Every Chance You Get
Public speaking isn’t just speaking in front of an audience of people. You find yourself in many situations where you are the center of attention just chatting with friends, co-workers, and your family members. Public speaking is also where you are the center of attention. When are with your friends and family, remember the feeling you have when you are talking with them. Most of the time, you feel relaxed and confident in what you are saying. When get a break from work, school, or just have some free time, rehearse the material you are going to present. The more you rehearse it, the more confident you’ll get which makes speaking in front of people less scary.
6. Know Who Your Audience is
Here’s an extra tip to try, know who the people in your audience are. Are you speaking in front of people you don’t know? Are these people no nonsense type people? Is your audience family members or friends? Figuring this out before you speak in front of them can greatly help the way you present yourself. If your speaking in front of a serious audience, organize your material first off, focus on making sure your facts are on point and that you speak loud and clear. If your audience is more mellow and filled with people you know well, still focus on making sure your facts are straight, but have a little more fun. Add in some humor, throw a joke in, say something to make your audience laugh, throw in a story, let your personality show through your presentation. Being who you are makes things easier in everything you do. Public speaking is no different.
Public speaking is a yay and nay for everyone. Some love and thrive off it and some are scared of it. Whatever one you are, we are all capable of speaking in front of others. Presenting your material in an effective manner your comfortable with, that helps you feel confident, helps you reach your audience, and gets your point across is a win. I guarantee you that a handful of people you know don’t like speaking in front of others. Your not alone.