Clammy hands. Dry throat. Shaky voice. They’re all signs of a fear of public speaking.
For many of us, speaking in public is as unappealing as anything. A recent study by the National Institutes of Mental Health found that 75 percent of Americans placed public speaking at the top of their list of fears.
Sooner or later, though, we all must face down that phobia. Here are a few handy tips to follow to put your best face forward when talking to groups.
Know your material
An audience can tell when you’re winging it. You’ll feel more comfortable when you know your subject matter. You’ll exude confidence and be prepared for any question the audience poses. People are turning to you for information. Make your presentation one they will remember for all the right reasons.
Rehearse … then rehearse again
This goes hand-in-hand with knowing your stuff. Practicing is important because it helps reenforce that you’re a subject matter expert and provides an opportunity to cut or add material before you get in front of the crowd. Take your preparation a step further and ask a friend or coworker to sit in on your dry run and offer their feedback. You also should consider recording your practice sessions for your own review.
Focus on your presentation
This isn’t to say that you should ignore the people who are there to learn from you. Good audience engagement is always important. But don’t get caught up thinking about all those eyeballs trained on you. Instead, present your information with confidence. Take a couple of deep breaths if you want. No one will mind a little nervousness if you have good material.
Volunteer for more opportunities
What’s the best way to get this fear under control? Get out and speak in public as often as you can. Join a local Toastmasters club. Get involved with a professional organization that holds regular meetings. Tell your boss you would like to run a few sessions at work. Every little bit will help make you a more confident public speaker.
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