5 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Anxiety
Are you terrified of public speaking?
You’re not alone.
Research has shown that around 73% of the population fear speaking in public.
The problem for 73% of us is that requirements to speak in public are becoming a prominent feature of most careers.
More and more employers use an interview presentation as part of the recruitment process and remote working has increased the number of online meetings, with zoom now having over 12 million active users each month.
Sales pitches, chairing meetings and project planning are all career-related public speaking activities that are becoming commonplace for professionals.
Speak with confidence.
What are the other 27% of confident speakers doing that nervous speakers aren’t? Have they taken a magical pill? Did they attend a 6-week public speaking course? Are they just born to speak with charisma?
The research shows there is no “magic public speaking pill”. In fact, there are no quick wins. The key difference is repetition. Confident speakers speak more often than their terrified counterparts.
And this is the hard part. A nervous speaker doesn’t want to take the public speaking plunge; there are just too many things that can go wrong, resulting in them looking bad in front of their colleagues and peers.
So, what did the now-confident speaker initially do to overcome their first-time jitters? They prepared.
Did you know that a Ted speaker spends on average 15-20hrs preparing for their speech?
Preparation creates confidence.
A lack of preparation creates worry as ‘anything’ can go wrong. It is this initial worry that increases public speaking anxiety.
Here are 5 tips to help nervous speakers become more confident on stage.
Overcome public speaking anxiety tip 1 – say it differently
Speakers believe their speech has to be word perfect, but it doesn’t. Having a speech that has been structured in a way that requires the public speaker to know each word in a particular order creates too much pressure.
Whereas speeches that are structured with 3 short stories, bookended with an introduction and summary gives the orator freedom – their stories can vary slightly every time to deliver the same speech, reducing pressure to “be perfect”.
Overcome public speaking anxiety tip 2 – get distracted
New situations create fear. An experienced speaker can lose their confidence while delivering a well-rehearsed speech if an unpredicted distraction happens; the PowerPoint presentation goes down, or the speaker is heckled.
Purposely practicing with distractions helps a speaker build up an arsenal of tools and techniques to use when a distraction happens for real.
Overcome public speaking anxiety tip 3 – find your own style
I was once watching a speech where the speaker, a friend of mine, opened the speech with a joke that didn’t really work. Without the expected laughter the speaker lost confidence and his speech went downhill from the beginning.
After the speech, I asked why he had used humor for his speech which was on a serious subject. He explained that he had researched the best speakers and they all started with a joke.
When starting out as a public speaker a lot of people will try to mimic other speakers copying their style, delivery and structure. What makes a great speaker is authenticity. You can’t fake it until you make it if you aren’t being yourself.
The speakers who start with humor are naturally funny people. Speakers that involve audiences enjoy the interaction. Speakers utilising the hero’s journey structure love storytelling. Don’t pick your speaking style, as you already possess it.
Overcome public speaking anxiety tip 4 – test it
There is nothing worse than walking onto a stage in front of hundreds of expectant strangers for the audio not to work, or for the IT to fail, or to realise the batteries in your clicker have died.
Testing all equipment prior to the speech increases confidence – there is one less thing to worry about. If something that couldn’t be tested, does go wrong, following tip 2 will allow you to continue with confidence.
Overcome public speaking anxiety tip 5 – slow down to calm down
A common trait of a nervous speaker is the fast-paced delivery of their speech. The nervous speaker, driven by fear, has one goal – to say what they have come to say and then, as quickly as possible, exit the stage.
By taking the decision to slow down, you will calm down. The mind-body connection is a powerful speaking tool. If you are tense, stressed and speaking without coming up for air, the stress of the body sends anxious signals to the brain increasing the levels of speaking anxiety.
Instead, if a nervous speaker, breaths deeply and chooses to walk onto the stage slowly, taking the time to look around the room before saying the opening line of the speech, the body sends signal of calmness to the brain, improving the speaker’s confidence levels.
All these speaking tips will help to reduce your public speaking anxiety and improve your communication confidence. Each specific tip falls under one overarching law of public speaking confidence – prepare and practice. Remember Ted speakers spend on average 15-20hrs preparing for each speech, how long did you spend preparing for your last work-place presentation?
Project Charisma delivers engaging and interactive public speaking courses
in Manchester, Greater Manchester and the North West.
To improve your public speaking confidence, to create a Ted style speech and to master
stage presence, book onto one of our Public Speaking Courses In Manchester.