Here’s What To Do To Stop Public Speaking Fear
In my first year in college, I am always able to speak well when I am with my family, but immediately when I step into the school premises, I would not be able to talk well with a group of 10. This shyness continued with me until my second year when it was time for group presentation and I was made to lead the team. The fear grew and we all failed the course.
My lecturer then called me and gave me one of the most valuable lessons I would not have gotten if I were a normal student. He said his teacher taught him what is called the P’s and Q’s, “as long as you remember them, you will always feel the wind spirit”, and trust me I did.
Public speaking can make a grown-up feel like sucking breast milk. The mere thought of it turns our tongue to cotton wool, causes our internal plumbing to act up, and turns our knees to jelly.
These are the lessons I learned that day and I will be starting with the P’s first:
This is the most crucial part he said to me. When you sit down to write what you will say, think also about the listener. Are they going to understand what you’re talking about; will they understand the technical stuff and the jargon?
Whenever you are preparing a public speech, always ensure that whatsoever you are about to say has a not just a beginning and end alone, but make sure your speech has a middle (body). You can make a short interesting story as you continue your speech. He said to me “People think visually so paint verbal pictures for your audience. And always remember, people want to know what’s in it for them – so make sure you tell them!”
Most times, it is always advisable to get to the venue earlier just about an hour or half. When you get to the venue, take a proper look at the settings, check and stand at the point where you will be speaking from, see the audience where they should sit. And a lot of people will place a cup of water where they can get it to calm the nerves when they start the speech.
This Personal preparation falls in line with preparing what you are going to wear when in doubt dress up rather than down. Depending on the type of avenue you want to speak, you can always try to look casual. Men can take off their jackets while the ladies can remove items of jewelry. Also along with personnel preparation, mouth and breathing exercise is not excluded. Get the muscles of your tongue loose by repeating some tongue twisters.
Exercise your diaphragm. Take a deep breath in and out. And the last thing he said to me years back was “ write your own introduction. Write out exactly what you want someone to say about you, large font, double-spaced, and ask the person introducing you to read it. Believe me, they won’t object and will probably be pleased and impressed.”
Poise and Posture
It’s time to put yourself together. Walk as smart as you can when you are being called to speak. Walk with confidence like someone who is sure of what you want to do. People will relax when they notice confidence in you. Don’t bend, stand tall, and look like you brought everyone there. When you get to the spot, smile, look at your audience, and smile. Sometimes I usually wait till the applause has gone down. Look likable and your audience will like you.
Not the usual pretense this time. Pretend not to be nervous but try to be nervous. Being nervous boosts your adrenaline which makes your mind sharper and your brain smarter. Nervousness is very good in public speaking and you need it but what you don’t need is to show how nervous you are. You can imagine telling your audience you feel like you could faint… Yea! So the trick is to keep your nerves to yourself alone.
Let me give you a few tricks to do that. When it’s about your turn, get lots of oxygen into your body, stretch and move your body periodically especially your arms. It is known to relieve stress chemicals.
You can even reach out to the glass of water you set aside for your dry mouth but never take alcohol. you don’t want to start mixing french and dutch to English audience
Your audience will definitely stay glued and listen to whatever you need to say if you are able to get their attention from the beginning.
Don’t start by saying – “Good morning, my name is Nicholas Cage and I’m from the presidential hilltop.” Even if your name is nick, it’s a really boring way to start a presentation. It is very cool to start with an anecdote or any interesting fact that relates to your presentation.
It is always advisable to look at the audience on the face, that will look as if you are talking to them personally and they will not fall off along the line. But if you feel this is too hard for you, then look at the faces of those at the last roll, the reason is that you might not really see their reaction and that can still build up your reaction rather than see a face that will discourage you. But as I said, it is advisable and professional to look at your audience face to face.
And the final say here is that don’t speak with your regular voice, try to talk louder. It keeps the people in the front row awake and makes sure those at the back get the message. Funnily enough, it’s also good for your nerves.
You probably know what a Powerpoint is (check here if you don’t). I have used this almost in all my presentation both no matter how small or big my audience is. Using Powerpoint will get your audience to see from your perspective, they will not just listen. Mind you, you are the important factor here not PowerPoint, so don’t lose your audience to it.
Speaking from experience, when you are presenting for a project or for employment, and your judges see the passion in what you are saying, and they realize that passion could be used, then they will go for you because they see that passion in you. You can apply the same in public speaking. Passion is very important and it alone can make your audience accept whatever you are trying to say. Let your audience see a bit of energy in you.
And that’s all about the P’s, so let’s look at the Q’s.
Don’t you ever finish your speech with questions. If you want to round up, you can have a question and answer session. Let all the questions be asked, then you round up or summarize your session to have a strong finish. Let them know at the beginning of your session that there will be a question and answer session and make them prepare for it.
Make sure that when you are asked a question, read it aloud to the ears of all your audience and appreciate the questioner. That keeps everyone involved with that question and as well provides you a little time to think about it, so that makes you clever and also in charge.
Know when to quit. If you are being given 30 minutes, don’t use 31 minutes, Remember, it is not how far but how well. Quit at the agreed time, don’t let the moderator start asking you to leave directly or indirectly.
One of the most famous speeches ever – “The Gettysburg Address”, by President Lincoln, was just over two minutes long.
But when you are about to quit make sure that you hit most or all your points and if the time permits questions you can take it, but if the time does not permit then drop it. It’s better for them to give you more time when you have gone back to your sit than them sending you off the stage.