You’re short of breath, your legs are shaking and you can feel your face turning red. It might feel like you just finished an exhausting workout, but that’s not the case. You are about to give a presentation.
However, you are not alone in this feeling. The fear of public speaking is the most common fear among people and prevents many from reaching their full potential.
According to the Washington Post, Americans fear public speaking more than any other phobia—even clowns, ghosts and zombies. Put an end to your presentation anxiety and transform yourself into a great speaker with these tips.
- Keep your fear to yourself. Remember, your audience cannot see that you are nervous so keep it a secret. Your audience will consistently underestimate your fear, keep it that way. Don’t tell them that you are nervous. When you appear confident you will seem more credible.
- Speak often to gain confidence. You probably don’t get nervous every time you have a conversation. Yet, each time you have to talk for a presentation you can feel the nerves starting up. Perhaps all you need is more experience. The more you present, the easier it will get and the better you will feel.
- Preparing for confidence. If you feel prepared, you will not be as afraid. Fear comes from not know what you are going to say and from imagining that things will go poorly. Take the time to research, write and edit your speech carefully.
- Practice, practice, practice. We are less afraid of things we are familiar with than those which we are not. That is why it is so important to know your presentation. Go through your speech several times to familiarize yourself before you have to present your speech.
- Listen to your voice. Audio-record your speech and play it back. Listening to your own voice is a good way to find spots that need improvement.
- Concentrate on content. Concentrate on your speech and not your fear. If you start to get nervous once your speech has started, think about what you are going to say next instead of your restrictive feelings.
- Water Only. Avoid coffee, tea, beer and Jack Daniels before you speak. It may be tempting to gulp down various drinks before your speech but these will only make you more nervous. Sip on water and hydrate.
- Breathe. Take long, slow, deep breaths to ease your stress.
- Stretch and release. Hold your muscles as tight as you can for 30 seconds and then release. Repeat this process several times. After stressing your muscles the only thing your body knows what to do is…relax.
- Direct your focus. Focus on your audience, not yourself. Instead of concentrating on your fear, think about whether your audience understands your message.
Stop limiting yourself. The only thing that stands between yourself and an amazing presentation is your own mindset. Attitude adjustments, practice and positive experiences will replace your presentation anxiety with sheer confidence.