It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. ~ Mark Twain
Are you Glossophobic?
Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking
Did you know that the most people would rather die than speak in front of an audience? It comes before death and even spiders!
Now that we know that being scared of speaking in public is normal, how do you get over that fear?
Not to worry! Here are 5 great tips to gain the confidence you need to become comfortable speaking in front of any crowd:
1. Know your audience.
This should always be the first thing you do. Learn about who your audience is and what information they expect to get from you. What is their background on the subject and why do they want to hear what you have to say? How many will are expected? The more you know about your audience, the more likely you will be prepared and not surprised. I research as much as I can about each audience and then use comments during my presentation to connect with them. For example, “I know your jobs in public safety are stressful. That’s why it’s even more important that…..”
2. Do your homework.
Research your topic and know it inside and out. This will increase your confidence by not having to fake it or say something incorrect or incomplete. Even if I think I know my topic thoroughly, I look for new facts or updates in the area I’m presenting on. It’s always good to have a very timely quote or statistic about your subject ready to go.
3. Have a plan.
Every good presentation needs order, structure and flow. Make an outline to use as a guideline. Make sure all your components fit together nicely and logically. Here’s a simple formula that works: tell your audience what you are going to talk about; talk about it; and then summarize what you just talked about. Be careful not to overuse PowerPoint. Use it to help you make points, not give the presentation for you. And, for heaven’s sake, please don’t read it to your audience!
4. Practice, practice, practice.
Do a dry run of your presentation to see how it comes together and check the estimated timing. It is never comfortable to end up with more or less time than was expected. Use a friend, family member or video camera to practice in front of. Watching yourself will help you get over your nervousness, see what areas you need to work on, and get you comfortable presenting your material. Watch out for excessive use of “ums,” “likes” and “ahs.” Your self awareness will help minimize them. And, your confidence will increase each time you practice.
5. Engage The Audience.
Over 50% of all presentations fail miserably because the speaker just stands before their audience and runs through the presentation at full speed. Show that you have a personality and some passion for your topic. Engage your audience by greeting and connecting, asking questions, taking a poll, or telling a funny story about yourself or the topic at hand. Stories make presentations come alive, so have some ready. Be conversational and natural. Don’t try to be like anyone else. You will be most successful when you are just you.
By regularly using these five tips I have gone from being a nervous wreck to actually enjoying giving presentations! Using them will help you gain the knowledge, confidence and enthusiasm you need to be awesome out there!
Please, share your experiences with public speaking and comments below!
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.
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