Glossophobia – the fancy sounding name for one of the most common fears – the fear of public speaking. Some people make giving a speech look so natural but we can’t all be born presenters.
It’s normal to get a little nervous when putting yourself out there but if your racing heart, sweaty palms, and blank mind are starting to seriously interfere with your personal or professional life, maybe it’s time to overcome the fear. We’ve put together some top tips to put you on the track to confidently standing in front of an audience – and without recommending you imagine them naked!
Research your topic and write your talk in advance. Aim to keep your sentences short and succinct and repeat key points. Prepare cue cards and any other materials, like a PowerPoint presentation, and arrive at the venue early so you can organise your thoughts and ensure everything is set-up as you want it.
They say “practice makes perfect” for a reason. Practice alone, in front of the mirror, and in front of others until you know your talk back to front and could answer any question thrown at you. Practice your delivery as well as the words so your flow, facial expressions, and body movements are more natural on the day. If a trusted friend or colleague offers well-intentioned, honest feedback, listen with an open mind and think about adjusting your words or actions accordingly.
Talk About What You Know
You’ll naturally feel more confident and passionate talking about topics you’re experienced in. If your boss ropes you into talking about something new though, take the time to research and understand the subject matter as much as you can.
When we’re nervous our breathing can get a little out-of-whack. Before you stand up in front of your audience, try some deep, slow breaths or use a technique like belly breathing. During delivery focus on finding a rhythm and breathing calmly, then when it’s over, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief!
Be Kind to Yourself
Try to manage any negative self-talk and challenge your thoughts around fear of rejection or judgement. We can get used to seeking evidence that reinforces our negative thoughts so don’t zone in on that one person on the phone and interpret it as everyone being disinterested in your presentation. Remember, the audience is there to listen to you for a reason.
Now go and rock the stage, conference room, or whatever platform you’re taking!