Did you know that public speaking is the #1 fear in the world? It beats the fear of actually dying. That seems like a pretty farfetched fact, but it is the truth. Maybe that would explain why I had to take my Speech class twice. I was so frightened to actually have to get up in front of my class that I actually contemplated not even finishing my degree because of it. Hey, I know I am not alone who felt that way! Public speaking is not easy for a lot us. However, there are those people that are naturals and don’t have a million butterflies buzzing around their stomach or break out in a cold sweat like the rest of us when it is our turn to get up and speak. At any rate, I was finally able to pass my public speaking class, but I took it online. I thought I was going to get myself off the hook and not have to stand up in front of an audience and speak. As you can guess, I was so very wrong! God bless technology – I was required to construct a new speech weekly and present via Adobe Connect live with my professor and classmates watching me. I guess it wasn’t as nerve wrecking as doing it in front of the classroom, but it still took a lot out of me to get done.
Let’s put aside the emotional fear that a lot of people feel for a moment and focus on the reality of the subject. Public speaking is actually a very important skill to acquire. At some point in life most of us will be required to give some type of speech or presentation and we might not have much time to prepare. Speaking in front of groups isn’t something that can be taught; it is something that with practice can be achieved. Even the best speakers you see presenting probably were nervous at some point in their career, but with practice they have mastered the skill.
Here are a few pointers for those of you that are currently practicing.
1. Prepare if you have time. Try to make 2-3 good points.
2. Stand in front of your audience with confidence. Try not to fidget or pace back and forth.
3. Don’t forget to breathe! Sometimes we get so nervous we forget about that part. Taking slow breaths will actual help you relax for the speech.
4. Speak normally… do not speed through your information to hurry and sit down. Breathe and take pauses in between your points. This will make it easier for your audience to understand you.
5. Lastly, make eye contact with your audience. Looking down at your notes the whole time really doesn’t work too well, so look up from time to time and project your voice so you can be heard.
Please feel free to share this posting if you can relate. You might just be helping someone else who is working on the same predicament. Remember, practice makes perfect!