Studies show that the fear of speaking in public ranks higher in most people's minds than the fear of dying. Today's tip combines some advice for speaking in public with a dab of encouragement to carefully proofread what you would say to your listeners. While we specialize in the advice in bullet four, we wish you well in taking all of the following points seriously as you prepare to wow your audience.
Nervousness, speech anxiety, stage fright, platform panic - it's known by many names, but it's a problem every speaker must confront. Actually, feeling nervous before a speech is healthy. It shows that your speech is important to you and that you care about doing well. But unless you can manage and control your nervousness, it can keep you from becoming an effective speaker.
Here are some ways you can make your "butterflies" fly in formation:
- Recognize you're not alone.
- Realize that people want you to succeed. Well, most of the people, anyway. Think of your listeners as supporters.
- Speak about what you know. Select speech topics that are within the realm of your knowledge and experience. This will build your confidence and make you less nervous.
- Prepare thoroughly. If you are well prepared and have rehearsed your speech, you will have more confidence and less anxiety. Part of preparing well is to ensure you have no awkward grammar mistakes in your delivery. It's well known that educated audiences turn their ears off after just two grammar blunders. Don't let this happen to you! ProofreadNOW routinely proofs speeches for clients before delivery time. We check everything at least twice, too.
- Concentrate on the message, not the medium. Focus your energy and attention on your message and your audience and away from your nervousness.
- Turn nervousness into positive energy. The same nervous energy that causes platform panic can be an asset to you. Harness it, and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.
- Gain experience. Experience builds confidence -- your anxieties decrease with each new presentation you give. [If you'd like, you can call ProofreadNOW and deliver your speech over the phone! We'll listen and applaud.]
Adapted from Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Program manual.