Presentation and public speaking are a nightmare to deal with. Most people find it stressful to talk in front of a crowd waiting to hear what you have to say. Communicating your ideas clearly and presenting them openly in a public forum is an essential component of success across several domains of life. Hence why the fear of public speaking, which is commonly known as Glossophobia or speech anxiety, can be daunting on a person’s education and life in general. The good news is that there are multiple ways you can reduce this anxiety, some of which are discussed in detail below.
First things first, be aware of your presentation’s deadline and prepare well thought out material ahead of time. By doing so you reduce an immense amount of pressure and stress as the deadline approaches and you will have extra time to refine and practice your speech. In addition, by thorough preparation, allow you to become much more familiar with the topic thus boosting your confidence as the deadline approaches.
A common mistake many people make is memorizing their presentations. The truth is presenting memorized material can get you so far in your public speaking abilities. Moreover, memorization and fear of public speaking go terribly together since you may find yourself forgetting half the stuff you memorized once you get in front of the audience. Furthermore, memorized speeches tend to sound rigid and disconnected also known as making the audience fall asleep! In order to prove the audience, you know what you are talking about and reduce your own anxiety you need to focus on showing your understanding of the topic. The best way to do that is knowing the structure and main points of your presentation and then further expanding on those points as you go.
Practicing your speech with others is one of the most effective ways of decreasing your pre-presentation stress. It will help you get a sense of which parts of the presentation you struggle with the most. In addition, this practice allows you to get a feel for the audience’s reactions and feedback.
Fear is an adaptive response that aims to help the person overcome a situation. So honestly why are we so afraid of being afraid? By changing your perspective on fear of public speaking you can better manage the anxiety better. As you may know, anxiety and fear make your heart pump more rapidly which will then allow more blood to rush into your brain causing it to become more energized and aware. This biological process is natural and is there to help you overcome the challenge ahead of you, so rather than trying to ignore it, embrace it and use it to your own advantage!
As mentioned above, you can use your fear of presentation to your advantage by channeling the extra nervous energy into positive energy. You may ask “What does that mean?”. The adrenaline released by Glossophobia can be used to make your speech more passionate. So instead of letting that adrenaline turn into intrusive thoughts about your performance, try and turn them into a heated discussion, a live demonstration, jokes, etc.
Many view presentations as formal and serious speeches on specific topics while that’s not necessarily the case. The most engaging and attention-grabbing presentations are the ones where the speaker is comfortable with the audience and presents as if he/she is just talking to a friend about a topic of interest. Thus, approach a presentation as if it’s a person to person conversation about something you are passionate about. This way you will feel more comfortable presenting and the audience become more immersed in what you say. In addition, this method will help you sound less monotone and thus more casual.
If you haven’t heard of power posing, do yourself a favor and watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on power posing. The logic behind power posing is that our body language has an impact on how we think and feel about ourselves. In other words power posing suggests if you stand tall, smile and try to take as much space as possible you will feel more confident, less anxious and more in control. Hence why it is recommended to exercise power posing for 2 to 5 minutes before your presentation. Moreover try to avoid low-power poses (leaning inward, legs crossed, etc.) since these poses can negatively affect your performance.
Deep breathing not only helps you feel less stressed, but it also helps improve your tone during your presentation. The public speaking expert Allison Shapira writes on Harvard’ business blog about the importance of deep breathing in public speaking. In addition, Shapira mentions the proper breathing technique and ways you can improve your speaking ability by practicing breathing!
Public speaking doesn’t have to be a hassle, it can actually be quite fun! But in order to make it fun, you need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone by experimenting as you present. How do I do that you may ask? There are many things you could try. For instance, you can turn part of the presentation into a story, or give out examples you came up with on the spot, or ask the audience a question, etc. All of these little things will make your presentation more appealing and less bland.
If you still don’t feel comfortable presenting you can always enroll in a public speaking class. These courses emphasize the principles of effective communication and develop your public speaking skills. Thus, you will learn how to research, organize and deliver a variety of different speeches for specific purposes. Post-secondary institutes and a variety of other places offer such courses.
Speech anxiety is more common than you think. In fact, the fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the world. Yet public speaking is so crucial in the current day and age. These facts have led to lots of research on this topic. The results of which are the above tips on how to conquer any public speaking.