Conquering Public Speaking
Public speaking. Some of us absolutely love to speak in public, while others cringe just at the thought of it. Speaking to a small crowd of people like in your circle of friends is a walk in the park, but having to catch the attention of a crowd of people who don't know you and have absolutely no idea what they will gain out of listening to you speak is the reason most people are afraid of doing it. If you're trying to conquer your fear of public speaking, preparing for an important speech, or simply want some tips on how to sharpen your public speaking skills, consider the following:
Practice, practice, practice
Yes, practice does make perfect. Try practicing in front of the mirror, your family members, your friends, or a small group of people who you don't know too well, like acquaintances of yours or your friend's in order to get a feel for what it's like to speak to an audience of strangers. You should also record yourself while you practice. This will help you get an outsider's perspective point of view and observe things like how fast you're speaking, your body language, your gestures, and the tone you're using.
Pick your Crowd
If you're new to public speaking, choose a small crowd which won't overwhelm you or increase your anxiety. Unless you're feeling courageous and want to tackle your fear head on by speaking to a large crowd, which more power to you, starting off with a small crowd can help you take baby steps towards the "grand finale". It's all about how comfortable and confident you feel.
Make sure you have all the tools and materials in order to execute your speech successfully. Knowing your material from top to bottom will definitely boost your confidence and performance because you know what you'll be elaborating on during your speech. The level of connection you'll have with the audience also depends on how knowledgeable about the topic you are and your level of confidence as you deliver.
Make sure to know your material well enough that you don't have to read from bullet points or depend on a power point presentation to deliver your speech. Nothing bores an audience more than someone reading off of a slide for hours. Give them your full attention by always directing towards them. This is why you need to know your material so well that you barely need to refer to any notes. The better you project your speech, the more your audience will be engaged.
Control your Nerves
The moment right before you're set to begin your speech is probably the most nerve-racking moment of all. Try some breathing exercises to calm down your nerves and anxiety. You can even try meditating. Visualize yourself on stage and think of a positive outcome from your speech. Always think positive and reward yourself for doing something most people can't even think about doing.