Do you ever feel like your stomach is doing backflips and your palms are all sweaty just from thinking about speaking in public? Well, you’re not alone. For so many of us, speaking in front of a group can trigger a fight or flight response that makes us want to sprint in the opposite direction. Especially since we’ve now become so accustomed to Zoom meetings and remote positions, public speaking is arguably more nerve-wracking than ever. But with the right tips and tricks, you can stand at that podium or in front of that boardroom with Beyoncé-type confidence in no time. From deep breathing exercises to actually visualizing success, we’ve got you covered with effective strategies that will make you feel like a pro in front of any audience. Here are 5 of our go-to tips and tricks to overcome your fear of public speaking:
5 Tips To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
1. Become an Expert in Your Topic
When it comes to public speaking, knowledge is power. Although it sounds a bit obvious, it’s a crucial point to remember: the more you know about your topic, the more confident you’ll be when presenting it to others. So, be sure to research your topic thoroughly and gather as much information as possible. This can mean reading articles or books, watching videos related to your topic, talking to experts in the field, or even attending relevant events to gain new insights. Go above and beyond in your research—there is literally no such thing as being too prepared! This will not only boost your confidence but also make your presentation more interesting and informative for your audience. All in all, be the know-it-all.
2. Prepare an Outline or Create a Notecard
Organization is key when it comes to delivering a successful speech or presentation. Creating an outline or note card can help you stay on track, and keeps you from getting lost in your thoughts or choked up from nerves. What makes a successful notecard, you may ask? First and foremost, you obviously want to avoid reading everything you’re saying word for word off a piece of paper. So, start by brainstorming your key points and most prominent supporting information, then take the time to organize them in a logical sequence that flows well and makes sense to your audience.
Don’t worry about getting everything perfect on the first try, as you can always revise and refine it as you practice. Not only will this help you stay organized and focused, but it can also alleviate some of the extra stress and anxiety that comes with public speaking. If one of your biggest fears is drawing a blank, then this tip is your best friend.
3. Make That Eye Contact
Eye contact is not only important for building a connection with your audience, but it also helps you keep them engaged and focused on your presentation. Staring at your notes or the floor throughout your speech will make the audience’s attention wander elsewhere, like their phones or what type of sandwich they’re going to get on their lunch break. By making eye contact, you let your audience know that you care about them and their presence in the room. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who couldn’t care less about them, right?
If you’re feeling nervous about making eye contact, start with small groups of people or even practice in front of a mirror (cheesy, but it really does help!). And don’t be afraid to smile or show a bit of personality when making eye contact. It’ll make you seem more confident and therefore get into a better, more natural groove. The goal is to make a connection with your audience, and making eye contact is key for that aspect.
4. Practice Deep Breathing Techniques
Ever since we were little kids, we’ve been told to take a deep breath when we need to calm down. And guess what? It works. When we get nervous, our breaths become shallow and rapid, which can increase our anxiety and make us feel even more anxious. So by practicing deep breathing, you can calm your nerves and reduce stress, which ultimately leads to a stronger, more confident speech or presentation.
Before you begin, take a few moments to focus on your breaths, and breathe in slowly through your nose and fill your lungs with air. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then release it slowly through your mouth, and repeat this process several times to allow your whole body to loosen up and feel relaxed. If you start to feel nerves creeping up while you’re speaking, find a good moment for a natural pause and get in one good breath. Staying grounded is everything, and breathing is one of the best ways to do it.
5. Visualize & Manifest Your Success
It’s time to be your own hype girl. If you go into a situation insisting that it’s gonna go horribly, chances are that’s way more likely to happen. Visualizing a successful speech or presentation and telling yourself that you’re gonna nail it can help you mentally prepare by creating a positive mental image of yourself delivering it with ease. Leading up to the big moment, try to visualize yourself standing in front of your audience, feeling calm, collected, and confident. Imagine your voice is strong and clear, and that your audience members are engaged and captivated by your points. Give yourself some positive affirmations, and know that you’re going to do the absolute best that you can. Public speaking is very much a mental game, so if you genuinely believe you’re going to nail it, you probably will. Now go own that podium.