Widely known as the #1 fear among Americans, public speaking can be a scary thing. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, about 74% of people report they have some form of speech anxiety. That’s the feeling you get right before a big presentation or speech that produces symptoms like sweaty palms, an upset stomach, and maybe even body trembling. It’s annoying, distracting, and most people would agree they’d like to have some tools to stop it from happening. The good news is that it is possible to control the problem, but it takes some practice and preparation.
Here are our 5 helpful tips to help decrease the anxiety for better public communication:
1. Preparation is Key
The problem for public speaking is usually the nervousness it causes. However, those nerves can be significantly decreased with proper preparation. Going over and outlining exactly what it is you will say helps to improve the delivery of your speaking as well as the quality of the information you are presenting. Most often, public speaking goes horribly wrong when someone has not thought through or practiced what they were going to say beforehand. Also, if you will be public speaking time and time again, ask someone to videotape it so you can identify some of the unconscious things you do that may be distracting to your audience.
2. Focus on the Opportunity
Many times we are so focused on “getting it over with” when it comes to public speaking that we don’t give any appreciation to the opportunity we have been given. You have been asked to speak to a particular audience because your knowledge and expertise is of value to them, and that’s something to embrace and appreciate. When you walk into a public speaking environment, try to change your mindset from simply getting through it to an opportunity for you to educate and help others.
3. Make Eye Contact
Eye contact has always been an important communication tool, and even in today’s tech-savvy world, eye contact remains key when it comes to public speaking. Don’t just gaze over the eyes of your listeners either, try to look deeply into them. Doing so makes the audience feel a direct connection with the speaker, keeping them engaged and eager for more of what you are saying.
4. Make Friends with TED
There are some amazing public speakers out there today, and they are available right at your fingertips. TED Talks are some of the most viewed and highly-rated public speakers today. Observe the various ways they are able to connect and motivate their audiences, then try to replicate those observations within your own speech delivery.
5. Watch Your Watch
Did you know the average attention span of an adult is 20 minutes? A common problem among many public speakers is talking too long making their point about something they’ve already articulated. Making the first 20 minutes of your speech the most informative and dynamic it can be is key to an effective delivery.
We do hope these tips (along with a few deep breaths beforehand!) will help you to become the most dynamic and engaging public speaker possible.