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Everyone has their own fears and phobias, and for many people, public speaking is one of them.
The act of having to speak in front of a crowd causes them to feel anxious and may even cause them to freeze under the immense pressure from all the stares waiting for them to start talking.
I was once extremely fearful of it too, however, I have followed several good techniques and strategies to help me overcome the fear. In this article, we will explore some of them together.
Prepare And Practise Thoroughly
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One of the determining factors in how well a public speaking session goes is the planning and preparation behind it.
This includes many factors, such as the content of your speech, the way you deliver it, and how visually attractive your slides and other materials are.
All of these also require thorough research and deep analysis, so start preparing as early as possible.
Additionally, understanding your audience is crucial too since the speech is for them, and if done right, it can help you determine what main points you want to make as well as set the tone of your speech delivery.
For example, it would not be appropriate to crack disrespectful jokes when speaking at a funeral. Lastly, always be prepared for any last-minute changes or incidents that could affect your public speech.
Practice Runs With Family and Friends
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“Practice makes perfect.” This phrase may sound cliché, but lots of practice will really help you get more familiar with your speech, albeit maybe not always perfectly.
I’m sure speaking in front of a large group of people can be terrifying, so why not have practice runs with smaller ones?
You could start by giving your speech in front of your family, friends, or anyone else whom you trust. However, do not continue with the idea if they aren’t supportive.
Instead, you could try stepping out of your comfort zone and attending public speaking workshops to practise your public speaking skills with the people there.
As you practise more and with many groups of audiences, slowly increase the size of the audience as you become less nervous and more confident in yourself.
After each practice run, make sure to ask for their feedback and use it to further improve yourself.
Make Good Use Of Body Language
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When public speaking, it’s not just your speech that matters, but also your body language.
No one would want to listen to someone who is slouching, looking down, or constantly looking at their script while giving a speech. Stand upright and maintain constant eye contact with your audience to project confidence, even if you aren’t.
If you are worried that you will get extremely anxious during the session, you could pick up some breathing and relaxation techniques beforehand and make use of them before or during the speech to help calm yourself down faster.
One method that I use to deal with anxiety is walking around the area while still giving my speech. This helps to keep the audience’s attention and acts as a way for me to relieve my nervousness since I’m moving.
However, if you want to do this, do not move around too often, as that will transfer their attention to you moving about rather than what you are saying.
Engage with the Audience
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In order to deliver a successful and effective public speech, your audience has to be engaged during the session. One way to do that is by including activities or discussions that involve the audience.
If that takes up too much time, you could just ask them some questions instead. By doing this, they will feel more interested in what you have to say since you included them, thus creating a fun and interactive public speaking session for everyone.
On top of that, doing this will also shift the attention and pressure from you and onto them for a while, so you can take a breath and lessen your nervousness before you continue.
However, ensure that you are able to direct and manage the situation well so that your audience does not get distracted from the main points of your speech.
Let Yourself Shine Through
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Audiences appreciate genuineness and authenticity, even during speeches. They did not come here to listen to a robot speaking in a monotone voice with no personality whatsoever.
Embrace your uniqueness and show your real self to them. You could inject your own kind of humour into the speech and even share your personal takes and experiences.
It’s okay even if you look silly, as the audience will feel more comfortable and more interested if you speak naturally and just be yourself.
Through good storytelling and added personal touches, your audience will be thoroughly captivated by your speech.
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Overcoming your fear of public speaking and improving your skills will take a lot of time and perseverance, however, it will be worth it.
Not only will it help you feel more confident overall, but it will definitely also help you succeed in your endeavours.
For example, you could even impress your future bosses and colleagues in the working world while giving speeches, such as pitching your ideas.
By making use of the right techniques, like those addressed in this article, you can transform your fear into confidence and deliver impactful speeches or presentations.