6 Ways To Overcome The Fear of Public Speaking
One of the biggest fears many people have is speaking in front of large or even small crowds. 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety and ranked number 1 fear among societies population! To combat that anxiety, here are 6 tips to help you prepare and deliver a great presentation.
The first step prior to presenting is having a brief outline or notes on what you plan to present. To compile your notes, research talking points pertaining to your presentation topic. For example, if I want to talk about dogs, I would research information about dog breeds, size, food and cleaning products.
Telling a Story
Once you have gathered enough information about your topic, you can break it down more specifically. This can be done by telling a story that describes the message you want to get across.
Here’s an example of a story telling: Pit bulls are known as aggressive, wild, and even dirty. However, most pit bull owners understand this stereotype and witness for themselves the caring and compassion pit bulls have toward their owners. While I was walking my pit bull one day, I noticed the fear on a little girl’s face and wanted to start crying. As her mother calmed her down and explained to her that pit bulls are not as scary what people expect of them. The little girl gently patted my pit bull and realized that pit bulls can be calm and playful.
Remembering Your Speech
When preparing your presentation, it is easier to remember key words, rather than memorizing your whole presentation. One thing I like to do is go through my outline and highlight or circle key words with a blue or red pen. That way, I don’t end up memorizing my whole speech and presenting like a monotonous robot. Instead, I can easily remember the structure of my presentation by triggering my memory with those keywords.
The most important advice to give to people when giving a presentation is to have confidence and just be yourself.
To boost your confidence:
Look directly on top of your audience heads
Practice your presentation multiple times to someone you feel comfortable talking to (or in the mirror) before you give your presentation
Confidence pose is the pose that makes you feel powerful; superwoman pose, speech pose, etc.
Smiling or making mild jokes can help you and your audience feel connected and less intimidating
Posture - back straight, shoulders relaxed, and an “open posture,” not crossing arms, physically facing your audience
Eye Contact - looking at your entire audience from front row seats to back row seats
Tone of Voice - in small crowds it is appropriate to talk in a mildly lower voice level compared to larger crowds
Modulation - show emotions when talking such as excitement when something interesting happened or show people your concern about a specific scenario by lowering your voice and talking slower with brief pauses
Engage with your audience - always smile, check in with them for questions (ex: who has also experienced this?), ask for volunteers from the audience if necessary.
Few exercises within minutes prior to presentation
Vocal - breathe in and out slowly and deeply for at least a minute
Nervousness - lay down on the floor having your entire body spread out releasing tension all around your body while having your eyes closed and clearly your mind for a couple of minutes; if you don’t have the room to do this, then basic stretches work as well
Modulation techniques - make lower to higher “aaaa” sounds, soft and deep voice levels, or even making random noises for your mouth to loosen tension.
Lastly, always THANK your audience and ask for questions!
If you are preparing a pitch to present your startup or project, you’re more than welcome to join to our Mastermind Group. Meet with likeminded people and receive feedback from your peers!
About the Author
Lucero is an undergraduate student studying Communications at the University of California, Davis. Through her work as an Operations and Event Planning Intern at Startup Lady, she has learned a lot and enjoyed her time with amazing entrepreneurial women. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, listening to music, traveling, and meeting new people!