Public speaking is one of the more common phobias. People often are afraid that they will look foolish or stupid when speaking in front of a group. Many speakers fear that their mind will go blank or that they will forget what they are to say. When this shyness takes over, many people are hurting their careers or their grades in school. Shyness during an oral presentation can be overcome. It will not happen overnight, but with some perseverance, it can be done.
Prepare for your speech. Being prepared for your speaking engagement will help you feel more comfortable. Make sure you are fully versed in the topic. Also, it helps to know who you are addressing and how large the crowd will be. A well-prepared speaker is less likely to be thrown off by a large group.
Practice your presentation. First, say your speech out loud while alone. Do this over and over until you are comfortable. Then, perform your oral presentation in front of a mirror. Practicing in front of a mirror will make you aware of your facial expressions and will help you work on your eye contact with your audience. Then, practice before friends. Choose friends that you know well and feel comfortable around. They will help you get used to speaking to a live audience while your familiarity with them will help you gain confidence.
Prepare note cards in case you get stuck. Many speakers pause during an oral presentation; it breaks their concentration and they forget what they are going to say next. Having your outline on 3-inch by 5-inch cards will help you keep up where you left off. You may never need the notes, but they will be there as a backup in case you need them.
Imagine your audience as people who care about you and have come to hear you speak. The audience is on your side, and they do not want you to fail or fumble. Thinking positively will keep you in good spirits and reduce anxiety.
Take deep breaths. Relax. Before you present your oral presentation, breathe deeply with your eyes closed. Stand up, go to the lectern, thank the person who introduced you and silently count to 10 before you start your speech. This will give you time to acclimate to the group and begin calmly.
Tips & Warnings
- Toastmasters is a good group to join if you would like to hone your public speaking skills.
- Photo Credit microphone image by Stepanov from Fotolia.com
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