Fear Not, Master Public Speaking with Confidence

June 1, 2012

Public speaking is a common fear among many people. Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of forgetting what to say. Fear of messing up.  Fear of being judged by your peers.

Whatever the underlying fear may be, overcoming your fear of public speaking can be done by following and practicing the following tips so that you can learn to master public speaking with confidence.

Tip #1: Know Your Audience.  It’s important that you know your audience and what purpose they serve at being at the particular meeting or event you’re speaking at. The age, education level, gender, occupation may be important to how you decide to approach your audience.  Also understanding what expectations that they may have about their time at the event is important.

Tip #2: Select 2 or 3 Main Points. Remember that you don’t have to deliver a “mountain” of a speech.  Most people aren’t expecting to walk away with a whole new profound understanding of the meaning of life from your speech.  If you can understand why you’ve been asked to speak at an event and what they want to get out of it, you’ll have a better idea of what things to discuss. For example, if you are only given 30 minutes to speak on say the importance of taking care of your skin, you might give people 3 important reasons to take care of their skin with some suggestions to skin care.  You’re not going to be able to get into much more than that and then risk losing a lot of your message because of having to either rush through your presentation or get cut off speaking.

Tip #3: Utilize Visual Aids.  Some speakers don’t like using visual aids, such as PowerPoint presentations, but if these tools are available, they’re very helpful for many reasons.  For one, they’re something for the audience to watch other than you during your speech.  If they’re taking notes, they’re able to see what things you feel are important enough to put on the screen and they can also become your own tools for jogging your own memory about important points you wanted to cover.  If you aren’t a fan of slides because you’re scared you’ll end up at a podium simply reading off of your slides, then create slides with major bullet points with 2 or 3 words about the points you’re discussing.  This is far better than a lot of text on the screen, anyway.

Tip #4: Humor Can Go a Long Way.  Speakers that can integrate humor into their presentation, whether it’s a bit corny or even very subtle, will find that their audience will be far more entertained and the feedback that the speaker receives from the audience can be confidence-boosting and encouraging.  Find subtle ways to tie in areas where you can be humorous in your presentation.  Just be sure that your choice in humor is not only appropriate and professional, but also that it’s natural and that it fits you.

Tip #5: Just Remember, “Nobody Ever Died From Public Speaking.” For some people, the anxiety and fears that develop from having to speak publicly can create a series of physical and emotional trauma to the body, but the experience does not have to be this stressful.  In the end, it’s not that big of a deal to speak in front of a group and, in fact, most people are just happy that it’s not them having to speak in front of everyone, so relax, take a deep breath and know that whether you fumble on some words or miss a thought, it’s okay.  You’ve obviously been asked to speak because you’re knowledgeable in a particular subject, so talk about what you know and what you prepared and you will be just fine.

Public speaking doesn’t have to be a big ordeal to get worked up over.  Keeping some of these points in mind and following these tips will hopefully make your next public speaking experience a much more stress-free and fun experience!

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Alabama.  You may also be interested in our Successful Public Speaking training course in the local Birmingham, Alabama area.  We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo Credit: focus.com

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