Do you dread public speaking?.... If so, join the club….according to most studies public speaking is a person’s number 1 fear….

Many of us know the feelings all too well when asked to do any public speaking….Why are they making me do this? What if I freeze up, what if I stutter, my knees are knocking, my head is spinning… palms are sweating…..what if I trip when I am walking up on stage…

Sometimes even the nature of the audience itself when it includes your boss for instance bring on the sweaty palms….

So why not try to do something about it…and before we go into details lets clarify that we are not 100% convinced it’s possible to ever completely get over the fear of public speaking but we do think it’s possible to learn how to bring your fear down to a manageable level.

Here are some tips to ease the nerves:

  • Speak from your heart:  Make sure you’re speaking about something that you are passion about.  If you believe in what you’re saying, the words will flow naturally.
  • Focus on the message, not the words: Don’t focus on this sentence or that phrase; focus on the message.  Understand what you want to communicate and express the idea in a conversational tone.  This will enable you to react to the audience and will make your communication more natural.
  • Tell stories:  Storytelling puts an audience at ease, humanizes you as a speaker, and makes your messages more memorable.  It is the most powerful tool in a speaker’s toolkit.

    To find your stories, simply mine through your own life experiences and pull out the gems.  Audiences will remember your stories more easily than facts and figures, and they’re more likely to enjoy your presentation.  Another benefit is that personal stories are easier for you to remember when you’re at the podium.
  • Prepare and Practice If you’re giving a high-stakes presentation, don’t leave anything to chance.  “Off the cuff” and “Winging It” are high-risk strategies and very few people can pull it off.

    Have a clear roadmap of what you’re going to say and rehearse.  Having your material down pat will enable you to have more fun with our audience and void the nervousness associated with being not quite ready.
  • Watch yourself: Few tools are as instructive as video playback.  People can tell you that you wander the stage, over-gesture, slouch, have an incessantly grim facial expression or use a repetitive speech pattern, but once you see it on video, it will be much easier for you to grasp or change. 

    Practicing in front of the mirror is also helpful.  When you speak in front of a mirror you get instant feedback.  It allows you to observe yourself and movements in real time. What you think may be a smile looks like a grimace until you learn to adjust it.  You can also adjust your posture, work on your eye contact and your gestures.
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