Raise your hand if public speaking is your worst nightmare. Well, you are certainly not the only one.
Even professional speakers feel nervous every time they hit the stage, so it is completely normal for you to experience stage fright. In fact, this phobia often appears to be more common than even the fear of death.
However, if you choose to ignore this weakness, your chances of climbing up the career ladder will be considerably reduced. Understanding the causes of your speech anxiety is the first step to cure it, so don’t settle. Try speaking in front of the camera to identify the main issues that affect your public speaking performance and rate your fear following this guide.
Based on the assessment of your capability, you can develop an actual plan to master public speaking like a pro! Here are the ways to overcome your fear once and for all.
Don’t just speak, tell your story instead
Many people refuse to speak in public because of the social pressure. But if you constantly think about rejection, you only make the experience worse. Try to think of it as a conversation with your friends whereby the only thing you should focus on is the story that you have to share.
Here’s the truth. People can’t judge things that they haven’t experienced first-hand. Hence, it doesn’t matter what topic that you are going to cover, you should make it more personal by giving it a “storyline” that is uniquely yours.
The secret to a good presentation lies in the power of persuasion and storytelling is more likely to resonate with the audience, rather than just a plain PowerPoint. As long as you can evoke a sense of wonder in your audience’s mind and allow them to visualise the points of your presentation, you will be able to engage them in your talk more effectively.
Even if your topic is a business proposal, you can still relate it to your past experiences or other success stories to make it more convincing. Always remember to conclude the presentation with a point that makes sense to you as well as your audience. There is no right or wrong when it comes to sharing your own story, so don’t overthink about the negative reactions.
Fully understand your subject
It is common to feel anxious when you have to deal with an unfamiliar task at work. The same goes to public speaking. Without sufficient knowledge on the topic that you want to present, your anxiety will be “self-invited” to enter the stage with you as your speech develops. A rule of thumb is to master all aspects of your subject in order to manage the audience’s expectation more effectively.
If you have watched TED Talks (which you should), you can easily notice how the famous speakers deliver their speeches with a personal touch based on their knowledge or experiences. Not only does the story behind your presentation that matters but also the level of your understanding of the chosen subject.
Just be mindful of the information that you share, whether it is a common fact that the audience may already know and if it is acknowledged by the industry experts. Besides collecting data to present the facts, adding your own point of view and explaining why it matters will definitely give more value to the speech.
Here’s the main factor that makes any presentation memorable: the ability to inspire people. Which is why sharing information can only bring you so far, it’s the personal approach that sparks ideas in people’s mind.
Learn about your audience
Did you know that speech anxiety, or scientifically known as Glossophobia, derives from social-phobia? It means that a person can also get a panic attack as soon as they stand in a room full of strangers, no matter how big of the group may be.
Depending on the dominant characteristics of your audience, you can adjust your style to fit with the crowd’s vibes. For instance, if they are students attending a pep talk, you might want to instil a little fun to your presentation in order to keep them interested.
Practice public speaking even in private
There is no shortcut to overcoming the public speaking phobia, as cliché as it may sound, practice does make perfect. Besides the fact that frequent exercises help to improve your technical presentation skills, actual stage experiences are the true teacher when it comes to handling feedbacks. And a good presenter learns how to embrace them all. As soon as you can manage your emotions well in front of the audience, there shouldn’t be any difficulty in conquering your anxiety in the long run.
Take any opportunity you have to practice your presentation skills, be it privately in front of the mirror or with the assistance from your friends. Don’t forget to record all of your ‘rehearsals’ so that you can monitor your progress and improve on the part where you can do better.
Don’t underestimate the power of public speaking for its influence on many aspects of your career, including the job hunting phase. You don’t have to shoot for a conference stage to call yourself a successful presenter, it is more important to be able to spread your ideas without fear.