Tips to Help Make Your Fear of Public Speaking Evaporate


Unless you’re living under a rock, there will come a time when you are called upon to speak in front of a group. It may be a friendly situation – a toast at your daughter’s wedding. Or it could be a challenging atmosphere – trying to win a new account for your company.

Although some individuals take to a crowd like ducks to water, many folks just seem to view public speaking as something worse than death.

It needn’t be that way! Here are several simple suggestions to help you through your next public speaking experience.

Speak about something you know. You can’t be passionate about a topic if you’re ignorant about the topic. If you are forced into a situation in which you have to speak about something you don’t know – learn it! Do some research.

Rehearse a simple opening and conclusion. It’s always a good idea to let the audience know what you’re about to tell them, and then remind them at the end what points you want them to take away.

Keep it simple. Try to make a handful of main points and support them with examples, stories, statistics, as appropriate. Don’t try to be all inclusive. Decide what is the most important and stick to that! Your audience is not going to retain that much of what you say.

Don’t focus on your own feelings of nervousness. This is easier to say than do, but if you throw yourself into the process of communicating, you may be able to forget about the butterflies.

Let your humanity show. Don’t take yourself so seriously. If you get stuck or lose your place, make light of it. Gather your thoughts and then proceed. If you are connecting with your audience, they will want you to succeed!

Make eye contact. Your audience will trust you if you look them in the eyes. Don’t look down or away. It conveys mistrust.

Practice in advance. There are some who seem to be able to “wing it” in front of an audience. But don’t fool yourself. You’re probably not one of them. There is nothing that builds confidence more than a rehearsed presentation. Preparation, preparation, preparation.

These days, the ability to communicate effectively in front of an audience is crucial to success in virtually any profession. By familiarizing yourself with your topic, preparing your delivery, and focusing on your message, you will be able to get through your next speaking experience intact! Who knows, you may even enjoy it.

For personalized instruction in the art of public speaking, contact me at boblongcom@yahoo.com

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About boblongwordsguy

I'm living the life in Michigan City, Indiana. Presently seeking a full-time position in marketing communications. Also play keyboards in a classic rock band, the Boogie Men.
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3 Responses to Tips to Help Make Your Fear of Public Speaking Evaporate

  1. Pingback: Handling Hecklers | Comm Before The Storm – Communications, Relations and Management

  2. Thanks for the tips on how to handle unruly audience members. Your suggestions are tactful yet direct. It can be a real challenge for the speaker to maintain civility in a situation like this, but you’ve provided a very thoughtful and logical approach!

  3. In commenting, I have put together a few thoughts about business presentations in general. I had a great fear of public speaking but in business, I often needed to present and it was this fear that made me work hard to be especially proficient.

    Why Are You Presenting?

    Whether you are speaking to a live audience or via video on the internet, etc., the purpose of your presentation is the same – to be effective and convincing with whatever message you are delivering. For a start you owe it to the audience, who have donated their time to listen and watch.

    No matter whether the audience is one or many, you must prepare well and do your homework to make the presentation as engaging as possible, not only out of consideration to your audience, but to provide the desired result you want.

    Most public speakers have to take on the roles of ‘playwright’ and ‘actor’, ‘wordsmith’ and ‘orator’. This is necessary, as unlike the actor, they must know their subject beyond the emotive articulation of words, especially if they are to be subjected to a grilling ‘question time’.

    John F. Kennedy, before he learned the art, was an appalling speaker – his delivery was wooden, he spoke too fast and he was obviously uneasy speaking in public. Later, through practice and effort, he became a mesmerising speaker. Just recall the impact of the one phrase from his speeches that everyone remembers: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country…’

    Not only had his delivery improved, but his phraseology was effective, showing he had learned the importance of how to deliver in manner and content – even if the content was devised by his speech writer.

    Speaking and presenting to others is an art. Some people are natural orators, whose manner itself can be enthralling, such as Martin Luther King Jnr. and Barack Obama. There are few people who have this as a natural gift, most good orators have had to hone and practise their art of delivery, coupled with the long hours of content preparation. So, if you have not got this natural gift, do not be disheartened, work at it and you too will be convincing.

    Of course, it is unlikely you would insult your listeners by not preparing your material well, but with the right practice you can ensure that its delivery will make it more interesting and possibly, close to the standard of the naturally gifted speakers.

    You are the medium between the content and the audience and the more you can maintain their attention, the likelier they will respond to what you ask of them or support you in your common purpose. By knowing your subject thoroughly, you will be able to answer questions, which are usually asked at the end of the presentation.

    This involves detailed work, but like all tasks, if you become interested and excited about achieving the best possible outcome, you will quickly cut through the work and it will not even seem tedious.

    Presentation Medium & Venue

    The spoken presentation usually involves aids, such as photos, charts, graphs, bullet points, etc. The spoken word is by far the most persuasive medium, because it adds so much more dimension – the presenter can speak with varieties of emphasis, light and shade, softly or loudly, quickly or slowly, with sarcasm or sincerity, emotionally or coldly, etc.

    Especially, spoken delivery can read and respond to the audience: a real advantage compared with recorded media, for example.

    Some of the common types of presentations and venues are:

    Sales Presentations

    These can be to a live audience of any number, e.g., at a trade show, conference or at a customer’s premises.

    Webinars via the internet

    Here the audience is live but not with you in the same venue. Webinars are great for reaching large audiences. Many companies announce the subject, date and time of regular webinars on their web sites and ask customers to register, encouraging them to email questions beforehand, allowing the presenter to determine the nature and direction of the presentation, if enough questions are received. Also questions by VoIP are encouraged during the webinar

    Videos

    You may feature these recorded videos on your web site via You Tube or the like. Video presentations can powerfully attract the viewer’s attention. People are often lazy and it is easier to watch a video than read about products or other messages. For additional impact, you may use an avatar presenter, but the delivery still needs to be inspiring.

    Speeches to Business Groups

    Usually presented live at the one venue, but increasingly delivered via a live conference hook up. Sometimes a ‘telepresence’ holograph is used at a live venue, giving the impression of a live presenter!

    Presentations to Boards

    Normally delivered live, but sometimes all or some of the audience may be linked by teleconference hook-up.

    Presentations on TV

    Normally you will be an expert to be involved in a live TV presentation on a particular subject.

    Informal Speeches

    At family or other social gatherings – sincerity and humour (other than funerals, perhaps!) are both essential here, since your listeners expect to be entertained and laugh. Do not be too long-winded, over-serious or boring – and please do not read your speech!

    In business or in your private life, sooner or later you will have to make a presentation and the sooner you become proficient, the sooner you will succeed. You may even learn to enjoy the adrenaline rush that normally accompanies such an occasion!

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