Written by Raquel Nixon, Contributing Writer
The fear of public speaking, also called glossophobia, is the number one most common social fear in America (uiowacounseling, 2021). Just the thought of getting up to speak in front of a group of people is enough to make most quiver. Few people may thrive in the spotlight, but for most people it is something to be thoroughly avoided.
But the truth is, we are all going to have to give a speech or a talk at some point in our lives. It may be for school or for work, with an audience of ten people or an audience of a thousand people.
Here are some tips and tools to nail your public speaking engagement:
Preparing for the Presentation
- Choose a topic that interests you: the more interested you are the more ease you may have
- Know your topic: make learning about the topic fun, not drudgery
- Prepare carefully: practice, but relax, being anxious and tense will take away from your hard work
- Practice with a friend: be authentic about your concerns, let the be there for you
- Get a good night’s rest: practice deep breathing, meditation, and prayer to calm you
- Dress for success: wear something that helps you feel empowered, comfortable, and ready
Day of the Presentation
- Use the restroom right before: you will concentrate better
- Interpret your anxiety as excitement: think of why you want others to know what you know
- Ground yourself: use your five senses to practice observing (without judgement) what are hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing, feeling at least 30 minutes before the presentation
- Make it a conversation: be in flow with your audience, believe that they are eagerly wanting to hear your expertise
- Bring a completely typed up version of your speech as a backup: just in case
- Use presentation tools (pictures, PowerPoint, handouts): draw attention away from yourself
- Speak loud and clear: slow down and elevate your voice, they WANT to hear you
And of course, the more you do it, the better you’ll get. But when it comes time for your next presentation, just remember about 75% of people struggle with glossophobia. And in the long run, you may or may not be able to get rid of your anxiety completely, it’s natural, and it can even make you a better speaker by encouraging you to care, take your time, and prepare as best you can (verywellmind.com).
In the end, our worst fear is making a mistake. The one thing we must realize is that perfection is not only unexpected, but it is also unrealistic, unattainable, and unnecessary. At the most, a presentation is meant to inspire, to inform or to educate. At the least, it is to show how much you know about a certain topic. Whether or not you make a mistake will not be more important than the information you impart. But with 75% of people fearing public speaking just as much as you do. . . they won’t care if you trip over your words a little, they’re probably as nervous as you are, awaiting their chance to present.
Cuncic, A. (n.d.). Top Tips for Managing Public Speaking Anxiety. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-managing-public-speaking-anxiety-3024336
Uiowacounseling. (n.d.). 30 Ways to Manage Speaking Anxiety. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://counseling.uiowa.edu/self-help/30-ways-to-manage-speaking-anxiety/