Overcoming Public Speaking Nerves
Speaking in public is a well-known fear and many people will try to avoid it if they possibly can. However there are occasions when you can’t wriggle out of speaking in public.
Men, in particular, need to overcome public speaking nerves as they will be expected to give a speech when they get married, at their daughter’s wedding, or if they carry out the role of best man. Women find it easier to avoid speaking in public on social occasions, but they may often have to speak at work. Whether this is to a group of colleagues, addressing a meeting or pitching to clients.
So how do you overcome your fear of speaking in public and find the confidence to produce a polished performance?
Join a Public Speaking Club
This gives you a chance to learn to speak in public in a safe, supportive environment. I belong to Armada Speakers, which is my local chapter of Toastmasters International. There I’ve given my first speeches, and had feedback on how to improve them from someone who can’t sack me! Who could ask for more?
Don’t be a Perfectionist
First of all realise that you don’t have to be perfect. Perfection comes with practice, so just aim for competence the first time. I was so terrified of public speaking that I felt in a daze the first time I did it, but afterwards I was immensely proud of myself just for standing up and doing it!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect, so get as much in as you can beforehand. Write your speech, learn it, and then practice on your partner, your children, your cat, or in front of the mirror! It doesn’t matter who is listening (or not listening), just keep on reciting your speech until you become word-perfect.
Don’t Be Afraid of Criticism
It’s easy to feel that the audience is very critical but in my experience this is usually not the case. The audience, rather than thinking you’re making an ass of yourself, is more likely to be admiring your chutzpah! You always sound more confident than you feel, so relax and enjoy yourself.
Your Chance to Shine
How often do you have a captive audience hanging onto your every word? Hardly ever if you are like me; so this is your chance to shine, your moment of glory. The audience is listening to you, so this is your chance to show off your knowledge, your sense of humour, and your personality.
Connect With Your Audience
Look at your audience and maintain brief eye contact with various members of it during your speech. This will make your audience feel involved in what you’re saying and you can gauge their reactions. If they look interested or amused, it stimulates you and gives you confidence. Whereas if they look bored, then you know that you need to step up the energy a bit.
Don’t Stop Now
So don’t be afraid to speak in public. Public speaking skills will certainly give your career a boost and you will probably start to enjoy it immensely. Once you overcome your initial nerves, take every chance you get to speak. You will feel more confident each time you do it and you may even become an addict!