Rivers of sweat cascade out of your clammy palms, and droplets embellish your green face. Super glue denies permission for your lips to part, and awfully slimy thickness in your throat blocks desperate words from coming out. And worst of all, the fries and pizza you devoured for lunch today are holding a competition in your poor stomach to determine who is the master of black flips. There is no other feeling as disturbing or as distracting as the fear of public speaking. This fear challenges you and beats you. It is a red light on your road to success, and even more so a trash can that collects all your efforts. You fear because of judgment and you fear because of the high standards you hold for yourself at. You fear the embarrassment and you fear the mistakes you are so very sure are going to occur. And in these moments of pure panic and terror, the one truth is that you are not alone in your fear. The fear of public speaking, or to a more extreme level, glossophobia, is the most common fear, being sprinkled into the lives of 75% of people. And although fear is a ferocious and intimidating monster whom you can’t quite just murder, you are more than capable of managing it and conquering it.
Know your audience and presentation setting. How unwise is it to blindly jump headfirst into mystery waters that you have zero knowledge about? You should thoroughly get a general idea of the ears that will hear your speech: Adults? Peers? Young Children? Businessmen? Artists? Teachers? Critical is an understatement for this step because it’s essential to sculpt your speech and presentation format in a way that brings out the best of your audience. On the mentioning of knowing your setting, you need to know the environment you will be speaking in. For example, if you know the presentation will be taking place outdoors, consider pinning up your hair so that wind won’t cause a ruckus. If possible, a huge factor of help would be practicing beforehand in the location without an audience, just to emerge yourself in what you will have to face. If it’s virtual, test out your video and audio before the presentation, and erase any wifi issues. And if possible, practice giving your speech a few times in the designated location without an audience, just to emerge yourself into the environment. Whether it be with knowing the audience or understanding your setting, you should always be playing the safe card and holding both in your comprehension. If you are thoroughly prepared and you know your plan is foolproof, your fear will diminish.
Practice until you physically can’t anymore. Practice is crowned as the absolute most important when it comes down to public speaking. Without practicing your speech, you can consider it a failure before even starting because you have failed to play your assigned role of preparing. Practice in your head, practice out loud, practice to stuffed animals, practice to an imaginary friend, practice to a parent, practice, practice, practice. The more your practice, the more confident and set in stone you will be. At a certain point, the words of your speech will be imprinted as a photocopy inside your brain. They will be as smooth as butter on your lips. They will be assimilated into you. They will be natural to you. And that is the exact stage you want to stand on. When you practice past abundance, you are less prone to making mistakes in your speech, and more prone to giving a marvelous one.
Break out of your shell and engage the audience. Jump through the hurdles of fear and open yourself willingly to the audience. A popularly effective way to instantly engage the audience is to delight them with some humor. When you draw the audience into your speech and give them part in your presentation, they will give you reassuring reactions. Eye contact, laughter, tears. Once you hear that they’re laughing, you will instantly feel validated. You will have proof they are paying attention. And that is something worthy of pride and something that can elevate your confidence to a soaring level.
Get your blood flowing. Before your moment to shine, light exercise and movement can be the greatest helping hand to you if you are abnormally nervous and jittery. Ideal ideas would include perhaps a short walk or a couple of knee bends. Simple movements like these circulate your blood and send oxygen to your brain. If you are speaking on a spacious stage or area, consider maybe even walking around while presenting the speech to release nerves. It’s infinitely times better than tapping your foot or pulling on your shirt while presenting as a much too noticeable effort to release nerves.
Write a speech that you genuinely care about. When the topic or contents of the speech isn’t aligned with your interests and personality, your mouth can be delivering the vain words, but your heart won’t be in it. Your nerves will climb higher and higher. Consider this for a moment… if you barely even care about what you’re saying, how can you expect the audience to? When you speak on something you are truly passionate about, it’s like bursting a dam open. Words, emotions, hand gestures, and facial expressions will lusciously flow out of your mouth in a perfectly passionate way that the audience will acknowledge. You’ll focus less on your fears because it will simply be replaced with the burning and crackling spark within you.
And undeniably the most golden tip of all, remember why you are here. You are on the platform to deliver a speech for a reason. You are significantly qualified and intellectual enough in the speech topic to be gifted with the pleasure of informing the audience. The goal of the audience is to mine a piece of gold out of your talk. No audience member walks in with the intention of picking your speech apart and keeping a hawk-eye on all your mistakes. They aren’t there to embarrass you or humiliate you. They are there to learn from you. Stand on your platform and own your speech because if you were to switch roles with an audience member where they would be presenting, there’s no guarantee it would be a piece of cake for them either. And if all else fails, it’s never too pathetic to pick up the most cliche and most old-fashioned book in the trick. You know what they say. Imagine everyone in the room is naked.