Are you preparing for a public speech or a company presentation? Congratulations – the opportunity to present your ideas to others is a significant step in your growth as a professional. Yet no matter how enthusiastic we may be about sharing our work, the prospect of getting up in front of a group, large or small, can be incredibly stressful. But with practice and a positive mindset, public speaking can become much less intimidating and will allow your great ideas speak for you. Being nervous about public speaking is normal. When you are able to manage your nerves, you will appear confident and knowledgeable, which is important in the successful delivery of your message.
Practice makes perfect: know your content. Knowing your material backward and forward is crucial to staying calm and collected during the speech. Practice it over and over again before the presentation day. If you pause for a moment and forget what to say, it can be extremely difficult to recover if you don’t have your next point ready at hand. This could break down your concentration and throw off your focus for the remainder of the presentation.
In addition, being well versed in your content will enhance your presentation because it will free you from the necessity to use cue cards, enabling you to interact with your audience through eye contact and body language.
Use visuals. Having a visual aid, such as a handout or a PowerPoint presentation, will not only help your audience to follow along and retain your content, but will also help to divert their eyes from focusing on you during the entire presentation. In addition, illustrating your points with a chart, images, or a short video will create a more engaging and interesting experience for your audience.
Rehearse with the equipment beforehand. If possible, be sure to test all the technical equipment and do a “run-through” using the presentation aids before the audience has arrived. Any technical difficulties should be resolved well in advance; rushing at the last minute to try to learn how to turn on the projector or to fix a broken microphone can be stressful and distracting – and it can also make you look unprepared and unprofessional.
Focus on individuals, not on the whole group. A large room filled with people, all concentrating on you: the thought alone can be daunting. To make this more manageable, when you’re up in front of the crowd, imagine you are speaking to individuals instead of a group and shift your focus from one person to the next. This tactic serves not only to comfort the presenter, but also will personalize the presentation for the audience when they are spoken to directly.
Pause to relax. Just before your presentation begins, take a couple minutes to find a quiet spot and regroup before heading onstage or in front of the boardroom. Take a few deep breaths to ease your nerves, or learn a brief de-stress routine in advance. Remember, your audience will support you: they want to hear what you have to say!
Appearing calm, controlled and confident is a recipe for success when speaking to a group. Luckily, most people find that the more often they present publicly, the faster their anxiety declines – until confidence simply comes naturally.
Share this blog post with others!