For those who can stand up in front of a room full of people, confidently make eye contact and deliver a speech without hesitation, the thought of being nervous whilst speaking out loud would be an almost alien concept. For those however, who look on in awe at the speaker and wonder how they can engage their audience so naturally, the thought of not being nervous when talking in public seems like an equally as alien concept.
The good news is that public speaking nerves can be overcome and conquered and just about anyone can give a presentation without being crippled with nerves – the trick is believing in themselves.
Focus on what you are saying and the message you are delivering
If you focus on what you look like and how you are portraying yourself to your audience, the chances are you will get nervous. Whilst we are concentrating on not looking ‘stupid,’ we are getting considerably more nervous and we are not concentrating on the message we are supposed to be delivering.
It is therefore important that we try and concentrate on what we are talking about and the message we are trying to get across in our presentation rather than worrying about how we look.
Can you imagine the embarrassment if the likes of President Barack Obama and David Cameron stood up in front of the worldwide media and hadn’t prepared their speech. The very best public speeches are those which are delivered with a precision and accuracy that has only been achieved through meticulous preparation.
If you have prepared your presentation well the chances are that you will feel a lot more confident about delivering it. When you are preparing your presentation, ask yourself questions such as, ‘What value am I providing for my audience?’, ‘How will this presentation benefit them?’, and ‘What is the most important thing they will take away from this talk?’
Use visual material
If the prospect of talking solidly for twenty minutes in front of a room full of people doesn’t fill you with joy, then you may want to think about using props in order to divert the audience’s eyes away from you and to provide some much needed respite for your voice.
Playing a short video clip for example, or showing a graph, images or statistics on an overhead projector can be a great way to add some diversity to a presentation. Just knowing that you’ve got some visual material to ‘fall back on’ may help you speak easily and feel less nervous.
Speak Easily is a specialist company in elocution and the art of clear and expressive speech. Based in London, Speak Easily provides several courses, such as public speaking workshops, which are designed to help you conquer your nerves and master your speech.