A fear of public speaking is common for people of all ages. During high school, giving presentations and talking in front of groups becomes a regular activity. And it happens even more when you get to college.
If you’re a student struggling with anxiety about public speaking, here are a few things you can do to overcoming those fears and rock your next presentation:
1. Know Your Audience
A big part of public speaking is connecting with your audience, and you can’t really connect with your audience if you don’t know something about the people in it. Are you presenting in front of other students, teachers, etc. Spend some time thinking about the people in your audience and what they may want to hear.
2. Get Comfortable With Your Environment
Take a few minutes to scope out the room you’re speaking in. It will help you feel more comfortable. Even if it’s a classroom you’ve spent countless hours in, you still may not be used to being in the teacher’s spot. Stand at the front or at the podium and get a sense of the room’s acoustics, as well as the layout, from this new view.
3. Know Your Purpose
There’s always a reason for giving a speech, a purpose for wanting to communicate. It’s important to reflect on the purpose for your presentation so that you can tailor your message and taking points accordingly. Talk to your teacher if you need some advice.
4. Practice…and Practice More
Knowing your material well will make it easier to remember and stay on point. Practice is essential so that you get used to delivering the speech in a low-pressure situation before you have to give it to your audience.
And, if you can manage it, don’t read from your talk word-for-word from a paper. This gets pretty boring for listeners. It’s okay if it’s your first time speaking in public and you need some practice. But you want to get out of this habit.
5. Learn from the Pros
A great way to practice is to watch other people give speeches and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Adopt these examples into your own style.
A great place to start: TED Talks. You can watch these high-quality presentations online and get some great advice.
6. Encourage Yourself
Much of the anxiety of public speaking comes from a fear that you might say something wrong or disappoint the audience. Without meaning to, you could be engaging in negative self-talk that increases your anxiety.
Instead of putting yourself down, try telling yourself that you are capable and you will do a good job. It’s amazing how much anxiety can disappear when you think positively.
7. Show Confidence — Even If You Don’t Feel It
When you’re actually giving the speech, you may feel anxious. But the best thing you can do is project confidence, whether you feel it or not. Even if you make a mistake or lose your train of thought, recover and keep on going. The truth is, what you may see as a major mistake in your delivery may only come across as a momentary pause or may go completely unnoticed. Don’t stress.
8. Share Your Personality
When you’re worried, it’s natural to be a little bit awkward and wooden, but with practice, you should be able to loosen up and be more natural. Let some personality show through when you’re talking. Smile. Make eye contact. People are naturally drawn to someone who is genuine and can be himself/herself, even if it means being a little less technically perfect.
9. Let Mistakes Go
Despite following all these great tips, you may still forget an important point or make a blunder. Instead of beating yourself up about it, let it go and just tell yourself that each presentation is a new opportunity, a blank canvas.