Got a presentation coming up soon? How confident do you feel about it? Maybe you share the fear that so many people have – Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking.
This can impact both your personal and professional life if it prevents you from taking risks to speak out and share your ideas.
The symptoms of public speaking anxiety can include:
- Shortness of breath
- An upset stomach
- A pounding heart
Some people suffer weeks of worry and even loss of sleep, as the date for their presentation draws closer.
If these symptoms sound familiar it because they are the same as you might also feel when confronted with physical danger – it’s the fight or flight response, and it’s designed to give us that rush of adrenaline to help us flee from a dangerous situation. But it’s not so useful when we need to address an audience!
So if you suffer from extreme nervousness when you even think about standing up and speaking in public, here are 5 quick suggestions which if practised will help you overcome that fear.
- Learn how to relax – both before and during your presentation. When we are afraid our muscles tense, breathing becomes rapid and our heartbeat probably increases. So, prepare yourself beforehand by taking some really deep, slow breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe in for a count of seven and very slowly out for a count of eleven – two or three times should be enough. Breathing out in this slow and controlled manner is an automatic signal to your body that it’s safe and you’ll find you start to relax naturally.
- Know your subject. Nothing helps ease the fear of public speaking more than being really familiar with your material. Not only will this help you connect with the audience, but will boost your confidence you won’t get stuck during your speech. You could prepare some prompt cards that will help you stay on track – include bullet points of the main items that you that you want to cover.
- Practice your speech beforehand. If timing is important, then use your phone to record or video yourself so you make sure you have time to include everything. The more prepared you are, the less worried you’ll be about looking nervous, losing your train of thought or forgetting what you were going to say.
- Stay hydrated – sip water beforehand, and add some lemon as it helps lubricate your throat.
- Imagine yourself succeeding. Did you know, that your brain can’t tell the difference between a real activity and one that you’ve imagined? Sportsmen and women have known this for a long time and regularly use it to improve their performance, and so can you. So imagine that you are giving a great speech, full of confidence and wowing your audience. Include as much detail as you can – include walking on stage, delivering an excellent speech and the audience clapping appreciatively. Do this every day and discover for yourself the difference it makes.
Finally, remember that even experienced professionals get a bit of nervous excitement before a performance! Prepare, Practice. Perform – and your confidence will grow.