According to Psychology Today, studies show that most Americans fear public speaking more than death. Do you have glossophobia (the phobia of public speaking)? If so, it's because we are aware the outcome strongly affects the way people view us, which is why public speaking causes so much anxiety.
Most of us in the business world can't avoid speaking in front of a group forever, no matter how many times we might try hiding under a desk. Whether you give presentations often but lack confidence or have never had to deliver a speech to a large audience, then you're in luck. Having been on stage regularly for conferences and industry events, I've prepared a list of five tips to help you conquer your fear and own the stage as a first-time public speaker.
1. Dress for Confidence
Confidence boosters are crucial when speaking in front of a group of people. Studies have shown that if your brain links a certain brand or garment of clothing to someone powerful and intelligent, you're likely to take on those same attributes. That's right, here's your chance to rock your favorite Hilary Clinton-inspired blazer or gorgeous jewelry the great Oprah Winfrey would likely wear or maybe just sport your favorite crazy outfit like Russell Westbrook. When you feel good in your power suit or shiny jewelry, it boosts your confidence and the audience will see it in the way you speak and interact with them.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
I can't stress it enough: practice makes perfect. The more familiar you are with the content and how you plan to present, the more comfortable you'll be giving the actual presentation. Practice how you'll move across the stage and plan to utilize props if you have any. If you practice, you won't have to worry about fumbling over words or ideas on the day of the event. Practice with friends, family or colleagues and have them give you feedback on what you're doing great on and what you need to improve. Hearing your audience's perspective can make a world of difference in your presentation and the goal you're trying to meet. And, if you don't have access to an audience for practice, then stand in front of a mirror and record yourself with your phone.
3. Meditate to Reduce Nervousness
Picture yourself on a dark stage with a spotlight hovering over you and 400 people staring, ready to listen to what you have to say. You probably have giant butterflies fluttering around your stomach, right? That's totally normal. One way to reduce those nerves is by meditating. This could mean an actual practice of yoga, for example, or just taking a few moments to yourself to focus on your breathing. Doing so will allow your mind and body to relax and prevent those fluttering butterflies from distracting you on your big day.
4. Sleep the Night Before
Nothing prepares you more each day than getting a good night's sleep. When you sleep soundly, you're more alert and ready to take challenges head-on. Make sure you are well rested the night before your speech or presentation.
5. Take Tips From the Experts
Be open to looking for advice from professionals or other experienced public speakers. You can also absorb public speaking tips from watching notable speakers like Oprah or former President Barack Obama. There are several valuable public speaking tips Barack Obama has shared with the media during his presidency.
Standing up in front of a crowd is definitely intimidating but there are ways to settle those butterflies-turned-pterodactyls in your stomach. Even if you don't regularly speak in front of a large group, there are numerous situations (like meetings) where learning public speaking skills can come in handy and create new opportunities and ideas. Follow my tips and repeat after me: I can do this!