I am Dr. Sarah Renee Langley, Leadership Coach, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Published Author. I am the Founder and CEO of LeadHer International, a successful leadership and professional development company committed to empowering, educating, and enhancing women leaders to boost their confidence, harness their leadership power, and have their voices heard globally. For the past 10 years, I have been providing coaching, counseling and consulting services to employees of Top Fortune 500 companies, small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs on quality leadership, efficient service delivery and accelerated profitable growth strategies.
As I do a lot of public speaking, I know the nuances of going about it. It is common to face some kind of fear or anxiety when facing a crowd, but there are also certain methods of overcoming the same. With regular practice, it is possible to overcome any nervousness and ace the public speaking act.
Here are certain tips that helped me conquer my fears of public speaking.
When you have all materials in order and your thoughts organized, it helps you to be calm and relaxed. With a well-thought-out plan and organized thoughts, you can direct your energy and attention to one thing at a time, thereby reducing your speaking anxiety.
Consider writing out a script containing your key points, but don’t read from the write-up word for word. Prepare your speech so thoroughly that you can answer any possible question posed to you. Preparing and practicing your speech can go a long way to lessen the fear related to it.Observe Yourself in the Mirror
One of the best ways to practice your speech is by doing it in front of the mirror. Pretend as if you were directly speaking to another person. While doing so, pay attention to your body movements, gestures and facial expressions. Observe how welcoming you appear to be. By noting how to come across as a public speaker, you can directly improve your disposition to be friendlier, which will automatically negate the anxiety in your mind.
If you’re a beginner in the world of public speaking, you could start with a small audience. Facing the crowd, even if it is not too large, will help you overcome any fear. If you are well-versed in your topic, you will be able to get yourself out there and make the speech.
Do not freak out by taking it on yourself to memorize the speech. You only need to remember the main points and prompts as well as the examples, which are to be covered.
The minute before you make your stage entrance tends to be the most fearful. This is when you want to take a deep breath and calm yourself. Also, visualize a positive outcome to build confidence. These will help you drive away the anxiety.Engage Your Target Audience
When you make a speech or presentation that involves engagement with members of the target audience, it eases the pressure on you. Do not make your speech a monologue. Make your talk interactive by asking questions to the audience and making them participate. This will reduce any possible anxiety and prevent the audience from feeling bored. Involving the group also gives you time to reorganize your thoughts if they are bouncing off track.Don’t Pay Too Much Attention to Audience Reactions
Instead of worrying about audience reactions too much, focus on your material and the topic at hand. Remember that there will always be people openly showing signs of tiredness and boredom. However, do not take these reactions personally as they increase your anxiety.
These methods have worked for me in making successful public speeches. They have also helped my clients.
The challenges to public speaking are many. Some of the most common, in my experience, are the following:
Lack of confidence can negatively affect your body language and disposition. For example, you may fret often or find yourself speaking too fast. When you are nervous as a public speaker, the audience tends to focus on the negative visual and vocal cues instead of the content of your speech. To counter this, give yourself the time to prepare well beforehand so that you gain a sense of control.Inattention to Preparation
When there is lack of adequate preparation for your speech, the disorganization shows. So, go through rehearsals to familiarize yourself with the material, maintaining credibility and enabling the audience to field questions. Preparation will also help you choose the right words and voice intonation. Testing the technology and other visuals beforehand also makes it possible to detect glitches that otherwise hamper the speaking event and become a challenge.Inattention to Time Management
If the public speech happens to end much before the stipulated time or extends beyond it, there is a problem. It puts you in an awkward position. Practice and time the delivery of your material beforehand. It is better not to leave more than 2 to 3 minutes at the end of your speech for any questions or concluding thoughts.
While these challenges can spoil your public speech, and make you hesitant to make one again, the key is to overcome them with willpower. Some of the most renowned public speakers were at one time inexperienced. So, they all faced similar difficulties. However, it is very much possible to drive away the fear and inadequacies and become a successful public speaker, as I have learnt from my own experience.
I hope my input helps.