If the thought of getting in front of a crowd to speak your piece makes you shiver in your socks—don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states:
Public speaking is said to be the biggest fear reported by many American adults, topping flying, financial ruin, sickness and even death.
It’s normal to feel nervous before talking in front of others; everyone from the bottom to the top of society has had a moment or two of stage fright in their lives. Following these three easy tips will help you learn how to overcome your fear of public speaking so your next opportunity to deliver a speech or give a presentation will be without the cold sweats and shaky knees.
Practice Makes Perfect
It sounds a little like beating that dead horse from childhood, but having a good grasp on the task at hand by having done it over and over helps your brain (and thus, your body) feel relaxed. When your thoughts aren’t tied up in remembering “what comes next”, you remain more mentally flexible and agile.
Handle Mistakes with Dignity
You’re going to make a mistake, and when it happens, just take a deep breath, fix it, and motor on.
Though the thought of having everything go perfectly might be an appealing one, it’s not crucial to your point getting across. Everyone watching knows that you’re a human being, and they’re not going to be nearly as hard on your performance as you are (they’re probably feeling a sense of relief that it’s you up there and not them).
Use the extra mental clarity you have from practicing diligently to calm the butterflies and smooth over your stutter with a smile.
Realize It’s Not about You
The first few minutes are going to be the hardest part—that time where you still feel like there’s a weight to the situation, the time of tight stomachs and jello-legs.
Know that you’re your own worst critic and you can own that stage/podium/lecture hall with strength and confidence. It’s the content of what you’re communicating that’s important; you are merely the vehicle that is imparting something of value to your audience.
These steps may feel difficult at first, but if you keep at it you’ll be handling public speaking as if it were child’s play.
As always, I would like you to share your experience with the community. Have you ever performed in public? Were you nervous? What helped you prepare for it, and how did it go?