For many students and professionals alike, the thought of public speaking results in sweaty palms and shaky knees. How does one overcome this fear and deliver a fantastic presentation?
First and foremost, practicing is of upmost importance. Make sure to rehearse your PowerPoint presentation or note cards several times, especially taking time to read through them aloud. You never know which word or phrase might get you tongue tied, and practicing beforehand could help prevent a mid-speech stutter.
So, if your job requires you to give presentations or talks, but you’re not a fan of public speaking, here are a few tips that could help you:
- The day of your presentation, don’t over caffeinate! People might mistake coffee jitters for nerves while you're speaking. Instead, opt for a glass of water to keep your speaking voice clear.
- If you know that there will be time for a Q&A after your presentation, prepare the answers to potential audience questions. Try delivering the presentation for a spouse or friend, taking note of any confusions they may have. This can help you manage your composure, even if you are asked a tricky question.
- If you’re not sure where to look while speaking, focus on a friendly face in the audience. You don’t want to be looking at your note cards, or even worse, your shoes, during your whole speech! Instead, before your presentation begins, scan the audience for someone who appears to be both attentive and receptive. That way, when you look up while speaking, you can look toward them for reassurance.
- Remember to breath. If you are rushing and just can’t seem to get seem to get your words out, try taking a full inhale and exhale after each statement. You might feel that this will make your speech take longer, but in fact, it will help the audience understand you more clearly. This may even lead to fewer questions at the end!
- Be yourself. If you have a funny anecdote to begin your presentation, share it! People will be more likely to connect with you and pay attention to you if they feel that they know you a little.