As a 23-year-old fresh out of college, public speaking was a skill Julie had to learn quickly during her first job at a small marketing firm in Chicago. Fast forward 10 years to today, and she now earns a great living working as a Business Consultant for a Fortune 500 Company, where she presents three-to-five times a week nationwide. Having to present so often, many assume public speaking would be second nature to Julie, but she still gets nervous right before walking on stage. Here are her terror busters for even the tried and true public speaker!
- Got Butterflies? Don’t procrastinate, prepare! As cliché as it may sound, practice your presentation over and over again until you feel confident you know the content backwards and forwards. Do it in front of the mirror if you can. When new to presenting, I used to spend nearly a half day just practicing. Now I can just review my slideshow on the airplane.
- Don’t be humble… Establish credibility! You will always have that feeling like everyone is looking at you wondering if they should stay. So one of the first things I do on stage is tell the audience who I am and why they should listen. After I clear this up, I feel more confident and get into my presenting groove. Remember you are the one who knows more about the subject than anyone in the room. That is why they are there to hear you!
- Afraid to stand out? Don’t hide behind slides! Yes, slideshows are important to the audience and are a great reference point for your presentation, but do not let it overshadow what you have to say. If you read directly from the slides, this will be boring to the audience. But if you are passionate about what you are talking about, listeners will find it interesting regardless of what the subject is.
- Don’t retreat, connect with the audience! I always try to include one or two ways of interacting when I speak in front of the group. For instance, I include a question to the audience where they have to vote on something. This is good because it takes some of the focus off of me for a minute and lets the audience get involved. The simple exercise helps everyone (including me!) relax.
- Expect the unexpected, but don’t worry! I’ve had plenty of unexpected things happen while I was presenting—many of them funny. You cannot predict the future, but if you slip up, don’t worry. Instead, laugh at yourself and just go with it. Most of the time presenters worry that they will be asked a question they do not know the answer to, but if that happens (and at some point it will), ask them for their business card and provide the person with an answer at a later time. The most important thing is to be yourself and enjoy the experience!
- You are what you wear! The day of the presentation, wear something that makes you feel good about yourself, even if it means splurging on a great suit.
More tips on how to appear confident:
- Know the room – become familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early to walk around the room, stand at the lectern and speak into the microphone.
- Learn How to Relax – You can ease tension by doing exercises. Sit comfortable with your back straight. Breathe in slowly, hold your breath for four to five seconds, then slowly exhale.
- Visualize Yourself Speaking – Imagine yourself walking confidently to the lectern as the audience applauds. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.
- Don’t apologize For Being Nervous – If you don’t say anything about being nervous, chances are, nobody will notice.
- Concentrate on Your Message – not the medium – Your nervous feelings will dissipate if you focus your on your message and your audience, not yourself.
- Gain Experience – Most beginning speakers find their anxieties decrease after each speech they give.
For more information, visit: http://www.ljlseminars.com/anxiety.htm