The fear of public speaking is one of the top fears that people have. Statistics show that over 41% of people have some level of fear or anxiety with regards to speaking in front of an audience. This fear often manifests itself as excessive sweating, sweaty palms, increased heart rates, blanking out (memory loss), nausea and sometimes difficulty breathing. There are many people who have been in front of audiences for years and they still experience anxiety to some degree.
Since having this fear often has no bearing on whether you have to do a presentation or not, you’ll have to find some ways to overcome your anxiety. First of all know that you are not alone and that you can prepare in advance so that the level of fear you feel is significantly reduced.
Here are some preparation tips to help you relax and reduce how you feel before going in front of your audience.
- Know the environment you will speak in. Become familiar with the area by arriving early and walking around. Know how much space you have and the physical distance between you and your audience. As you acclimate yourself to your stage, you will find yourself feeling more comfortable.
- Know your audience. You should find out who your audience is comprised of and do some research to find out their likes and dislikes. When they enter the room, greet them and take time to get to know a few people so you have some familiar faces.
- Know your presentation inside and out. If you don’t know what you’ll be presenting how can you expect yourself to feel at ease and fearless?
- Implement breathing techniques to help you relax. Breathing techniques have been scientifically proven to invigorate the body and help you get rid of nervousness.
- See yourself on stage before you actually get there. Replay images of your successful presentation in your mind. If you visualize success, you’ll find the confidence to achieve it.
- Know that your audience wants you to succeed. Your success means they get what they want and need. If they’ve paid money to attend your presentation, they have a personal stake in your success. If you’re providing training, they have a personal stake in your success. If you’re presenting to internal or external stakeholders, chances are they may need to make a decision based on the information, they want you to be successful in conveying vital information. Get the idea? Your audience wants you to succeed.
- Don’t draw attention to your being nervous. Many people won’t even realize that you are nervous. Most times you will find that while you have your audience’s attention, they are really thinking about themselves. They are absorbing what you say and processing that into how that relates to them.
- Know that there is a purpose to your message. You have a message to deliver. Sometimes it’s a cause that you are passionate about. Other times, it may be training that your company needs you to give.
Preparation is the key to your success! Through preparation, you can also overcome most if not all of the feelings of fear that you might have so prepare, prepare, prepare! What are you waiting for….get started now!