Akash, founder of Communication Skills Tips: Are you afraid of public speaking? Do you suffer from speaking anxiety? Do you want to learn how to give confidently deliver presentations and speeches? In this article, presentation expert Judith Field will teach you how to reduce your fear of public speaking so that you can become a confident speaker.
Enter Judith (a public speaking coach in Melbourne, Australia): This article is on “how to decrease nerves in public speaking” not on “how to get rid of nerves.”
Impossible to Eliminate Nervousness in Public Speaking
Why is that? Simple: it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate some public speaking nervousness. It is a normal part of being put in the spotlight, of feeling that you are the center of attention. And you are. However, there are many ways of decreasing these nerves and even harnessing them to make you look and sound like a confident speaker.
Why Are People Afraid of Public Speaking?
Public speaking is many people’s number one fear.
Let’s look at why most people feel very nervous.
Most people are afraid of making a fool of themselves.When you stand up in front of an audience, if your mind is worried about making a mistake, it is likely to make you self- conscious. That, in turn, could make you focus on NOT wanting to make mistakes or forget what you want to say. Unfortunately, those thoughts are going to make you more nervous.
Also, many people (like me) are naturally reserved or introverted. They don’t like everyone staring at them. They may think, ”I wish they would all stop looking at me.” Or even, “I can’t look at them. It’s too scary.” Unfortunately, those reactions are also going to make you look and sound more nervous.
Finally, some people are afraid of speaking in public because they might previously have had a bad experience. Every time they get up to speak or even think about speaking, their subconscious mind reminds them of that terrible time. They can’t get it out of their head. And guess what? It can muck them up again and again.
8 Tips to Reduce Nerves when Speaking in Public
This all sounds like there are very few ways of making nervous speakers feel confident and speak well.
The opposite is true.
I am about to share with you at least eight techniques that help you to speak well if not extremely confidently.
1. Practice Your Presentation
Most people spend 95% of their preparation time writing their speech and only 5% practicing it. It needs to be 50% 50%. That means you need to write your speech well ahead of the day and start practicing it at least thirteen times. [Note by Akash: I personally think that while you don’t necessarily have to rehearse your speech thirteen times, you should rehearse your speech at least twice before you give it.]
2. Practice Your Speech the Right Way
This next tip is a very important one. When you do practice, practice as if you are in front of the actual audience you are speaking to. If you can, go to the venue. It is not enough to practice in front of friends, colleagues or even a mirror.
Imagine yourself in front of the real audience, speaking confidently, every time you practice. It may make you more nervous when you practice, but less nervous on the actual day.
If we don’t breathe, we die. However, many nervous people tend to hold onto their breath as they speak and that can be unhelpful for projection and nerves. By breathing deeply and pausing to take those breaths, you give your brain oxygen, you calm your nerves and you give the audience a chance to take in your points. It is one of the easiest ways to decrease your public speaking nervousness if you remember to do it. So, think of it as giving the audience time to take in your points and breathe deeply and speak on your breath out.
4. Public Speaking is a Conversation
This may sound silly, but if you think about speaking to one person, then one person, then one person, it is not so scary. Public speaking is a one-on-one conversation with many people. And by the way, do not imagine the audience in their underwear or naked. That is rude and sexist and really likely to make you laugh.
Instead, imagine you are talking to one friend. Then you are talking to the next friend. If it is a large audience, divide the audience into a grid of 6 sections and talk to the center of each section.
5. Before you Speak, “Tense and Relax”
Do some exercises in the bathroom when you have that nervous pee. Tense up all the muscles around the face and arms and feet. Hold that tension for a few seconds, then relax the body.
6. Watch What You Say to Yourself
This next tip is based on NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and it is important. Whatever you do, do not say to yourself, “Don’t be nervous.” Or “Don’t blush.” Because the opposite will happen. The subconscious does not access negatives.
My obsession is with the color purple, so to illustrate my point, I would like you not think of a purple flower! Chances are you are thinking of a purple flower.
So, instead thinking, “Don’t be nervous”, I think to myself: I am a confident, powerful speaker…when I talk, people listen…I stay calm and poised when I speak”.
These affirmations when said over and over, with feeling and conviction will help you be more confident and calm. You do need to say them at least nine times a day for many days.
7. Visualize Giving a Great Presentation
Visualize yourself at the end of the speech, feeling great. This will put you into the right mindset when giving your speech or presentation.
8. Focus on Your Audience
You need to be focused on what you are sharing with them, not what they think of you. Give an audience-focused presentation. See yourself as speaking in the moment, with your whole body and soul, speaking about something you are passionate about. If you remember it’s not about you but all about them, you will speak naturally and with great emphasis and ease.
Become a Confident Speaker
So, now you have my eight special tips to speak with more confidence and ease. Nerves in public speaking are normal. Practicing, visualizing, breathing deeply, speaking to one at a time, tensing and relaxing, affirming and being focused on them will all decrease your nerves. You may even enjoy speaking and find the power in yourself that you did not know you had.
About Public Speaking Coach Judith Field
I am Judith Field. I teach public speaking to business people, corporate executives and individuals. My training method is unique, affordable and proved to be efficient. I hope you’ve found value in this article. Let me know what works for you. Or ask me for advice about your particular concern. My website is: www.directspeech.com.au