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5 public speaking tips to fix nervousness

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The fear of public speaking is technically known as glossophobia. Does the thought of talking in front of even a small crowd give you the nervous jitters? If so, you’re not alone. A reported 75% of the population claims to have some anxiety about public speaking. It’s no surprise putting yourself out there in front of so much attention would be scary, even for those who’ve been doing it their whole lives.

If you’re preparing for a big meeting or presentation, don’t fret. Here are 5 nerve-breaking tips to master public speaking. Remember, it’s okay to be nervous. In fact, most people (even performers) are nervous before they head into the limelight. That being said, don’t let nervousness prevent you from going after your goals.

1. Practice and prepare

The first tip is also the most common sense. Of course, you should practice if you’re about to start talking in front of a group of people. However, practice even when you think you know what you’re going to say. Practice even if you’re only presenting to a few colleagues or just your boss.

There’s a certain type of muscle memory that goes into speaking. You’ll get more confident the more you do it, so don’t be afraid to talk to yourself in front of the mirror if it helps you get the words flowing. The more prepared you are, the less anxiety you’ll feel about something going wrong.

2. Change your perception

To be honest, your speech isn’t about you. Actually, 99% of the time you give a presentation or talk in front of a group, it’s not about you at all. It’s about your audience. The speaking experts at Executive Speaking, Inc. recommend considering your audience before every speech. What can you learn about them before you start your presentation that will help you feel more prepared? This information will guide your organization, diction, and body language.

3. Don’t be a talking head

Women in professional settings often feel they need to appear a certain way. If you compound this with the fact that when we’re nervous, we tend to shut down, you have a recipe for disaster. If you’re unable to add your personality to your speaking, you’ll bore your audience to sleep.

Your personality is your best strength in communicating, especially in a business setting. Your audience needs to form a foundation of trust with you. That won’t happen if you speak in a monotone voice and don’t have anything interesting to offer. If you’re funny, crack a few jokes. If you’re bubbly, let that shine through. Don’t feel like you need to appear a “certain way” in your presentation to be successful.

4. Skip the notes

It’s hard to break up with extensive notes when you’re already nervous. You want to make sure you don’t forget what you’re trying to say. However, while all of that makes sense, having too many notes is a big distraction. It’s easy to lose your place, and you might find yourself giving a speech to your notes and not the audience.

Instead, stick to an outline. Don’t read from your work unless it’s a relevant quote or statistic. If you’re using a slideshow, keep it simplified to bullet points. It’s better to lose your train of thought and make clear eye contact than to spend the entire presentation reading from your notes.

5. Fake confidence

Finally, have you ever heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it?” Well, it’s incredibly appropriate for public speaking. It’s okay to not be confident. It’s okay to be nervous. However, once you let this show, you’re detracting the focus from your content.

Fake it ‘til you make it works. Standing tall with your shoulders back and keeping your body still and smiling will protect an era of confidence, even if you don’t feel it. Avoid fidgeting, and keep your nonverbal communication distraction-free. It’s okay if your hands are shaking a little bit, just try not to let it show. Odds are you’re already convincing your audience that you’re a pro!

Public speaking is a skill that takes practice and patience. Don’t expect to never practice and to see immediate results. That being said, if you take the tips above seriously, you’ll improve not only your confidence but also your ability to wow your audience.

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