Walking on a stage, we’ve all felt the sensation of shaky knee and trembling fingers. The fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears people face. Just the idea of speaking in front of an audience is enough to give many hellish nightmares. But in your academic life, in schools and colleges or in your professional life, in workplaces, there will come a time when you need to present in front of an audience, and there’s is simply no way around it. Here’s a little how-to on overcoming the challenge of public speaking –
Probably the most predictable point on this list, this step is incredibly important. For any presentation or event, you need to speak for, practise your material. Make flashcards and pointers to help guide the free-flow of your speech and keep them handy in case you forget what you’re supposed to say. Be so prepared that you don’t have to look at your phone or a script at all while you speak because this creates a terrible impression on the audience and makes you look unprofessional and unprepared. Know your material inside and out and recite it to yourself in front of a mirror.
Get into character
The most important part of acting out a certain role is to embody the character. Make the character a part of your personality, so that on stage your character’s personality feels more natural and less forced. Being emotive on stage is very important, so let the emotions come to you naturally.
If you feel unsure about your speech, recording yourself is always a great idea. Watching exactly how you come across and how your voice sounds will help you make the necessary changes. Once you’re happy with your performance, it will also give you the confidence to give the same great performance on stage. Only you can give yourself the best and most honest feedback.
Perform in front of others
Alternatively, it may do your performance wonders to practise your presentation or speech in front of a few trusted friends or family members, just to get a second opinion on your performances. Doing this will also help you decide what sentences or words to accentuate and how exactly to perform. Based on their reactions, you can predict how the audience will react to your performance. This is also important as it helps you realize where exactly you are messing up your speech and what you can do about it.
Hum to yourself
Right before the performance, it’s natural to feel jittery and restless. Humming monotonously is a great way to soothe your nerves and also stabilise your voice. Close your eyes for a few minutes before the performance, and hum, taking deep breaths between each hum. Alternatively, to avoid the feeling of nausea, eat something light and healthy like a banana or, if you can, lightly jog in your place before the performance.
Get to know your audience
This step may or may not work for you. Simply engaging with the audience before a presentation, performance or speech removes the idea that everyone in the audience is out to criticize you and get to you. Talking to the audience enforces confidence because by talking to people, you realize that they’re usually unassuming humans who are not out to get you.
Even if onstage you can feel beads of perspiration on your forehead and your hands turning clammy, don’t show it. If you’re on stage or giving a presentation, people already assume that you are confident and powerful enough to be up there. By fidgeting or starting off with a comment about how nervous you make the audience lose their faith in you and become bored, disengaged or critical of your performance. Even if you don’t actually have the confidence, your best bet is to fake it at that moment. The longer you fake your confidence, the closer you get to actually feeling confident.
Face your fears
Although this is easier said than done, take every opportunity you get to speak or perform in public. The only way to actually overcome your fear and to be a good speaker is to do it often. Avoiding speaking in public will give you momentary relief but in the longer run, will reinforce your fear. By speaking often, you will realize that it isn’t as hard as you imagine it to be and that the fear is just a built-up construct in your head. Grab every opportunity to speak, and while it may be hard at first, you will soon learn to love the spotlight.