Public speaking is an art form, when you deliver a presentation or a speech in front of an audience. In a survey, it is the greatest fear of the people who were polled, so you are definitely not alone if the thought of public speaking makes your knees tremble. Whilst public speaking can be taught and trained, the one key factor that you must possess is self confidence. With it, you will be able to trust in your own ability to cope with accidental hiccups, or unexpected questions shot your way.
The first thing to realize is that whilst training can help to prepare you, speaking with confidence is something that comes with exposure. The more often you speak in front of an audience, the more you will realize that there is not much to be afraid of, and that most people are not as critical as you think they might be. This will help you to build your confidence naturally.
The reason why so many people are afraid of public speaking is because they are unable to overcome their nervousness. The cause of this feeling of anxiety can differ from each person, with most people being afraid of coming across as incompetent. No matter how much you have trained, or rationalized the reasons why you should not be nervous, it is normal to still feel this way. Try to take the focus away from your fear, as the more you dwell on it the worse it will seem and you will soon find yourself paralyzed by your fear. Look for something to distract you, or engage in relaxation techniques.
This is a perfectly normal feeling to experience, and only someone who does not care about the presentation is able to feel a total lack of nervousness. The feeling of intense nervousness is especially strong right before you step up to speak, and you should take deep breathes to calm yourself down. Make eye contact with the audience and smile at them, especially if you know them personally. This will help you feel as though you are speaking to friends. Smile, and it will help your body to relax as smiling is an expression associated with having fun. At the end of it, the most important thing you should do is tell yourself not to be nervous. You have put in the effort and the preparation for this speech, and you should place your faith in yourself.
Before you embark on your presentation, it is a good idea to find out more about the audience demographics. If it is an open event which does not have a specific target crowd, scan the audience to find out their general age and experiences. This will help you to build rapport and form a connection with them in the first 3 minutes of your speech. How do you do this? Try to identify possible reasons why your presentation will be beneficial to them, and why they should pay attention. Capture their interest in the most important few minutes of your opening speech, and let them know what you will be covering.
Always play to your strengths. If you have a naturally serious face, you can attempt to soften the speech by adding in a hint of humor. Similarly if you have a reputation for being a clown, try to keep to the facts and figures and make your presentation a formal but interesting one. Whilst numbers and data is often crucial information, it does not do well to either focus too much or to gloss over them. Make sure you time yourself before your presentation, as a speech that drags on for too long no matter how interesting, will become boring and you will lose the audiences’ attention.
When delivering a presentation, it is a good idea to smile, but take care not to do this throughout the entire speech. It is also preferable to pick a topic that you are familiar with, or one that you have personal experience in. Public speaking is never easy, and you should not be afraid to ask for help. It is perfectly acceptable to inject humor or the unexpected into your presentation and personal anecdotes adds a touch to your speech and will keep your audience attentive.
Ultimately, stage fright and nerves is something that cannot be overcome with a snap of your fingers. With increased performances, you will find it easier to overcome your fear of public speaking, as speaking with confidence is something that needs to be developed and honed over time.
Greg Frost is an authority figure in Confidence Building and writes a variety of self confidence articles at http://www.ConfidenceBuildingCourses.com . Building Self Confidence is possible and easy as long as you put your mind to it.
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