Public speaking is one of the number one fears among everyone from high school students to experienced business professionals. Getting up in front of a crowd and giving a speech or other presentation strikes fear in the hearts of even those who are otherwise confident. There are some ways to get past the fear and giving a successful presentation, though. Here are some tips for public speaking:
Make sure that you are prepared. This does not simply mean having your index cards on hand and a bottle of water at the ready - though those are important, as well. Don't wait until just a few days before your speech or presentation to begin preparing yourself. Learn your presentation by heart, so you can continue without skipping a beat if you happen to drop your notes or forget them at home. Check your supplies the night before. Make sure you have your notes and anything else you might need so you won't panic the next morning.
2. Stay in Control
Gain control of the audience as soon as possible. Make them laugh or have them participate in a question that applies to your subject in the presentation. This will immediately place you in a position of control. It will also make your speech more memorable.
3. Speak to Someone
The most frightening part of public speaking is the fact that it is in front of a crowd of people. Even the most seasoned of public speakers get a chill down their spine with confronted with a hundred people staring at them in silence, expecting them to make a coherent presentation. Forget that you have a crowd there. Choose one person out near the center and make your presentation to him or her, pretending that there is no one else in the room.
4. Use Visual Aids
If you are the only thing the audience has to concentrate on, you are the only thing they will be paying attention to. However, if you have visual aids - such as handouts and pamphlets or a PowerPoint presentation, for example - their eyes be on you much less. You can also refer them to the visual aids and relax in those moments of not being watched.
5. Own Your Feelings
Trying to pretend that you aren't nervous is not going to work when you're sweating and your heart is pounding. Ignoring how nervous you feel is not going to make it go away, and neither will dwelling on it. Acknowledge to yourself that you are having some anxiety about your presentation and get on with it.
Public speaking doesn't have to be a ride on the adrenaline roller coaster. Keeping these tips in mind and preparing yourself sufficiently for the presentation go a long way in helping you to speak confidently in public.