Public Speaking can be scary! Even professional speakers tend to feel those annoying butterflies in their stomachs. However, after doing many presentations in front of clients and students, when those butterflies come I say that “I’m Excited” vs. “I’m Nervous”. It’s a shift in mindset to get myself ramped up for a wonderful writing workshop or presentation.
If you get nervous speaking in front of an audience, here are FIVE helpful tips to help you conquer that fear:
I cannot stress this enough. Even Senior VP’s at my former media company will practice multiple times before a client pitch. It will help you see the flow of your presentation, as well as be able to time yourself, expecting interruptions or questions along the way. It will also help you sound more relaxed and comfortable with the material as opposed to sounding like you are reading off of a slide. This leads me to my next tip.
2. DON’T READ!
Even if you are presenting to younger students, don’t read off the screen like a robot. To keep your audience engaged, you need to speak to them and not to the PowerPoint screen. You have key words and phrases there on the screen in case you need it to keep your train of thought, but make sure you sound conversational. If flash cards will help you from looking back to the screen every two seconds, that is another great trick you can try. That will help you feel comfortable enough until you are able to present from memory. Don’t forget to use visuals too since that will help tell the overall story as opposed to just words on a white background. Be creative
3. BEWARE OF NERVOUS HABITS
I used to talk very fast and it was a problem for me when I was younger. I would read so fast, teachers would tell me to Slow Down and not read like the road runner or a Speedy Gonzalez. While practicing in front of a group, they brought it to my attention. Once I was conscious of this nervous habit, I took strides to rectify it. Some people speak a lot with their hands, say “UM” a or other words that come up subconsciously. Once you are aware of your nervous habits, you can take measures to beat it and there are different techniques to try. Don’t get discouraged and remember that it takes a lot of practice to get it right, so just keep getting back out there.
4. MAKE EYE CONTACT
This is a great trick, especially to make sure that the audience is engaged. Walk around, make eye contact. Don’t just stay in one spot. Walk over to one of the students and ask them to read out of the book. It shows that you are interested in what they have to say so they will be more inclined to listen to you.
5. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Most importantly, just be yourself and believe in yourself! That confidence will resonate with your audience and show them that you feel strongly about the topic you are presenting!
I hope these tips have been helpful and best of luck with your next presentation!!
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