The place is all set, you are now standing in a room full of people with lights focused on you alone. You are about to voice out your ideas and accept the audience’s warm or cold reception. This imagery can sound nerve-wrecking to most people. Even if you prepared your notes and practiced your introduction, you can still feel nervous on stage.
Anxiety in several situations such as public speaking is completely normal. In fact, this is known as performance anxiety. Other performance anxiety examples include test anxiety and writer’s block. Fortunately, you can overcome this fear with enough preparation and continued persistence.
1. PREPARE AMAZING VISUAL AIDS
Come prepared with interactive presentation slides and eye-catching notes (to be given out to each of your guests). As the audience reads through the slides and notes, their eyes will not be solely focused on you. This will help you a lot as you giving a speech to people who are not directly looking at you is easier.
2. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Firstly, record yourself and observe the areas that need improvements (e.g., tone of speech or hand gestures). Secondly, perform in a room full of a few people whom you are comfortable with. Lastly, consider joining groups that do improvisations or public speeches.
Getting used to the pressure of public speaking through practicing several times is extremely helpful. When you know what the worst case scenario is, you are less likely to stress about it once it comes.
3. VISUALLY TRANSFORM YOUR AUDIENCE
No! I am not recommending you to visualize your audience naked. Instead, I want you to perceive them as your friends whom you have not seen in a long while. You will be more comfortable to look them in the eyes as you turn each one into your “friend”. This will also add a very approachable, friendly, and personal tone to your presentation.
4. TELL A STORY
Incorporating a story in your presentation can alleviate your nerves as messing it up is completely acceptable. As stories are meant to be told and not to be memorized, you can tell yours in the most natural way possible. People might not recall some of the main points of your presentation but they will surely recall a good story.
5. EMBRACE AWKWARD SILENCES
If your mind goes suddenly blank during your presentation because the nerves kick in, it may seem like you stopped for a long while. But it probably took less than a minute in real life. Embrace these “awkward” silences and take it as an opportunity to take slow and deep breaths. Worry not, the audience probably would not mind the pause as they try to understand what you were saying all throughout.