For most presenters, whether they are relatively experienced or completely new to the game, the biggest challenge is overcoming public speaking fears. The fear of public speaking is so strong in some people that they would rather intentionally crash their car instead of making a presentation or speech. Calming nerves is essential to speaking success, so here are some tips to put you in control:
1. Take a deep breath – in fact, take several deep, calming breaths.
A couple of minutes before you are going to be introduced, start deep breathing: breathe in, count to three, breathe out. Continue until you are introduced, and repeat every time you change your presentation focus, e.g. between examples.
Nerves make you jittery. Your feet want to move, so work out the jitters by planned movement. As you prepare your text, write a note to move across the stage or to turn to the other side of the podium each time you start a new segment.
3. Be prepared.
This is a compound suggestion:
i.) Prior to your presentation, review the physical set-up. Actually walk through being called to the podium or lectern, moving to either side of the platform, and getting off.
ii.) Prepare in advance how you are going to keep track of time and how you will keep track of your text.
iii.) Be ready for changes in program time, people and content. Have a contingency for them.
iv.) Test and set out all your props as much ahead of time as possible. Carry extra batteries, bulbs and cords for electronics, and be prepared to go without them in extreme cases.
4. Use your physical props as memory tags. Line up your props on a table, then pick each one up as it leads you through your speech.
5. Use your flip chart or whiteboard as a place to write your outline in advance.
Cover the individual items, then either remove the covering paper on the whiteboard or turn to the new flip chart page to remind you of the next section of your presentation.
6. Practice your opening so you can start confidently.
This is the one area of your speech we recommend you actually memorize. It is also a major hurdle in overcoming public speaking fears. Once you get started you will find that you just keep rolling.
7. Remember that no one else knows what you had planned to say, so it doesn’t matter if you forget something or get examples out of order.
Try these calming methods to take the edge off your nerves and overcome your public speaking fears. You will give a more relaxed and therefore more enjoyable and effective presentation.