Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice at public speaking, we all, at least occasionally, get nervous before talking in front of an audience. Even the best public speakers admit there are certain topics or audiences that can rattle their nerves, so it is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
If you are a nervous public speaker, or want to be prepared in case anxiety ever strikes, having helpful tips can keep you from losing your nerve or becoming too anxious to do well.
Here are 10 tips to help you overcome any fears, nervousness, or anxiety:
1. Be Prepared
The number one reason most people feel anxious about speaking in front of others is fear of making a mistake. Practicing your speech a lot (again and again and again) will help you to feel more confident, and you’ll worry less about this particular fear. PRO TIP: Record yourself and then watch it to see where you can use extra help or attention.
2. Breathe Slowly and Deeply
Deep breathing exercises will help you slow the physiological response to fear, and calm your nerves. When you breathe deeply, you provide your body with more oxygen, which slows your heart rate and relaxes muscles. And taking deeper slower breaths makes you talk slower, which also helps you relax more.
Create a mental picture: You have successfully finished your speech. This will help motivate you, and give you more confidence. What will it look, and feel like, when you are done, and the audience is clapping? Picturing your successful talk in vivid detail can help you get over anxiety.
When you smile, it releases endorphins, which can lower your anxiety, and help you feel calmer. Plus, smiling shows you are confident, which can also help you relax.
If you know you get nervous about speaking, be sure to exercise earlier in the day. Working out also boosts your endorphins, which will help you feel better and more confident.
6. Take a Drink
One effect of nervousness is a dry mouth. And when your mouth feels sticky, you will feel even more afraid. Stay hydrated before your talk and you have water nearby throughout your speech. Do not be scared to stop and take a sip now and then while you are talking.
7. Stop Worrying About Perfection
No one is perfect, and it is okay to accept that you won’t be either. Once you let go of the notion of perfection, you worry less about messing up and accept that it is all part of the experience. Just be yourself, and your audience will engage with you even more.
8. Work on Eye Contact
At the beginning of your speech, find four or five friendly faces in various parts of the room, and make eye contact with those people throughout your talk. When you smile at someone, their response will likely be to smile back, which boosts your confidence.
9. Meet the Audience
If you can, talk with some members of the audience before your speech starts. Ask their names and find out why they’ve come. This will put you at ease when you see that these are only normal, everyday people, and you have the added advantage of having the option to incorporate anything you learn from them into your presentation.
10. Stand with Power
Your body language can help you feel more confident. Try standing up straight, pushing your shoulders back and chest out, and placing your hands on your hips. When you feel powerful physically, you will embody confidence and assurance.
Using these ten tips, you can relax, improve your confidence, calm your jittery nerves, and feel ready to take on the world.