Be it giving a presentation at school, or delivering a speech to hundreds of people at a conference, public speaking is an undeniably daunting task. However, when done right, public speaking can be highly satisfying, both for you and your listeners. Here are some tips on how to get rid of your cold feet, and give an outstanding performance.
Do not wing it
First and foremost, you should be knowledgeable about your subject. Confidence starts by being sure of what you’re going to say, so allocate an adequate amount of time to preparing and researching the material for your speech or presentation. Study the subject well, and prepare a coherent and easy-to-follow agenda. Think about the resources provided, and how you can use them to your advantage.
Anxiety is something which cannot be avoided. You can, however, learn to control it. Apart from affecting you, it can influence the way your audience perceives you. Body language speaks louder than words and your listeners would be distracted by your nerves, even if your material is solid.
Make sure to ease your stress before you speak and take short breaks in between sections if anxiety kicks in without warning during your speech.
Do not block out your audience
Some sources advise you to pretend your audience isn’t there. This might actually hinder your ability to speak as it is extremely hard to forget you have people looking at you. Instead, use your audience as a medium to deliver a great presentation – make eye contact and ask them questions. Remember that, more often than not, your audience is a neutral listener rather than a judge.
Bonus tip – Do not let the people in your audience become passive listeners. Give them something to think about and take home with them.
Prepare a backup plan
Try as you might, things will never go exactly according to plan. Try to imagine what can go wrong during your presentation. It might seem that this would heighten your anxiety. But, in reality, it gives you a sense of security. Having thought out multiple scenarios and possible solutions gives you a greater feeling of control, and helps you believe you can handle whatever happens during your speech.
Let your personality shine through
Never shy away from being yourself. An audience appreciates a speaker who does not try to create a false façade. So be true to yourself. If you have fun with your presentation, your listeners will too!
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