It's a common experience to feel anxious about giving presentations. Why do presentations make you nervous? Why is public speaking anxiety such a big problem? Why is it that most people are more afraid of talking in front of others than they are of death itself?
In this blog post, we will answer all these questions and provide 10 ways for overcoming public speaking anxiety!
First, Why Do Presentations Make You Nervous?
Why don't we feel more relaxed about doing something as important as giving a speech before our peers?
It is said that the fear of public speaking is greater than death itself. People can be so afraid to give a presentation even when they know they aren't going to die during it!
This feeling occurs because people are inherently social creatures; we like talking with others and having conversations but at the same time, most of us dislike being judged by those around us. When someone stands up in front of an audience, they become acutely aware of their actions, every word becomes magnified, and all eyes seem focused on them which leads them to "hear" everything that everyone else is thinking about them.
Public speaking anxiety affects millions worldwide and it's something that has to be overcome if someone wants to succeed in their career or at school.
Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety: 10 Tips
Here are ten tips on overcoming your fear of giving presentations; hopefully these steps will help you out when preparing for the next speech audition!
1. Practice makes perfect
You've heard this saying before but what does it actually mean? This phrase means that if you want to get better at something, you have to practice. The more speeches that you give, the better you will become at doing them! This is because you will learn how to control your nerves and also how to present in a way that best suits you and your personality.
Remember: No one is born with public speaking skills; we need to practice time and again in order to improve our anxiety from public speaking. It's important that you take note of what works well when you speak so that next time around, you can do even better!
Also, remember not to overwhelm yourself by trying too many things at once - just pick two or three different exercises/techniques each week until they become second nature. Finally, if all else fails...fake it 'til ya make it 🙂
Keep in mind that is no such thing as a perfect presenter so don't be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes.
2. Know your topic
When giving presentations, it's important that you know your topic inside out. Not only will this help when answering any questions from audience members but it will also make you feel more confident during the speech itself. If you're not sure about something, don't be afraid to do some research before the presentation; this way you'll look like an expert on the topic!
3. Use visual aids
Using visuals can be really helpful when giving presentations. It allows you to break up the speech and make it more interesting for your audience. It's also a good way of getting them involved with what you're saying; people like doing things that are interactive! Some presentations even have activities as ways of engaging their listeners which is always something fun and exciting!
Consider bringing a prop if appropriate. This can be something as simple as a picture or even a small toy. Having something physical to focus on will help keep you more engaged with your presentation and stop your mind from wandering off!
4. Dress appropriately
When giving speeches, try not to wear distracting clothing or accessories such as bright colors or patterns. This can be off-putting for the audience members because they will spend all their time focusing on how funny your shirt is instead of listening to what you've got to say about the topic at hand. For more information on this topic, check out the article "Why Appearance Matters In Public Speaking".
5. Be yourself
If you want the audience members to like you, make sure not to pretend! Pretending can come across as insincere therefore making them feel uncomfortable around you; nobody likes feeling awkward so don't make your presentation about trying too hard!
6. Make eye contact with everyone
It may seem scary but looking directly at each person within the audience makes speakers look much more confident. By doing this, listeners will know that what is being said matters which helps them pay attention better. This also helps to take the focus away from how nervous you are feeling which is an added bonus!
For more tips on this subtopic, check out the article "9 Tips to Improve Eye Contact During a Presentation"
7. Practice your opening lines
Many speakers find it difficult getting off on the right foot. Why not try practicing your introduction out loud so that when you're up there in front of everyone, saying those words won't feel as awkward?
This way they'll flow more naturally and carry some real meaning behind them. It's also great for helping you gain confidence because by knowing what you're going to say before hand, it will help diminish any stutters or "um"s that tend to pop up during speeches.
Public speaking usually causes people stress; this can make muscles tense up causing us look stiff and uncomfortable on stage making it harder for listeners to concentrate on what you're saying. Why not try doing some breathing exercises before the presentation? This will help calm your nerves and stop you from feeling overwhelmed by them!
9. Take Care of Your Body: Eat Well & Exercise
Did you know that daily aerobic exercise can cut anxiety by 50% according to the University of Iowa?
Anxiety from public speaking is caused by stress; therefore if we can reduce our stress levels (e.g. through exercise) then we'll be better able to cope with anxiety in general and hopefully overcome anxiety from public speaking too!
Be sure not to overdo it, however, as working out right before your presentation can actually have the opposite effect! A moderate amount of exercise throughout the day should be enough to help you relax and feel more at ease when giving a speech.
Also, be mindful of how you eat! Foods containing tryptophan (dairy products, turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Try not to consume caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.
9. List all the anxiety & public speaking benefits
Anxiety from public speaking can actually be a good thing! It means that you care about your presentation and will go to great lengths in order to make sure it is done well 🙂
Remember, anxiety is an energy - use positive affirmations when anxiety strikes so that this energy becomes something productive instead of debilitating! Another way around anxiety for public speaking is by reminding yourself why you are doing what you do.
What's important? Why does it matter? If you find out the answer to these questions then no matter how anxious or nervous you may become before your talk, there will always be at least one reason driving you forward. And if nothing else works...just take a deep breath, center yourself and smile 🙂 You've got this!
10. Change your Perspective!
When anxiety from public speaking strikes, many of us tend to focus on the worst-case scenario and this can quickly lead to anxiety spirals that are difficult to get out of. One way around this is by changing our perspective - ask yourself "what's most likely going to happen?" rather than picturing all sorts of disasters before your presentation even begins.
What we tell ourselves before and during speeches can have a huge impact on how well we perform. Why not try using positive self-talk statements before the presentation in order to make sure that our inner monologue is working for us instead of against us?
Keep in mind that most audiences just want a good speaker that provides them with interesting information they can take away - people aren't there just for show business sake 🙂
11. Control your Environment
Are there any external factors that are contributing to your anxiety from public speaking? If so, try and take control of these as much as possible.
For example, if you always become anxious in bright lights then dim the room before your presentation - or if you're worried about people making noise then ask them not to talk during your talk. It's also important to get organized beforehand so that you aren't running around like a headless chicken on the day of your speech!
12. End with a strong message
Why do presentations make us so nervous? Giving a great speech means having an amazing ending to leave the audience remembering your talk long after it's finished. Why not try writing out different endings and practicing them until you find one that feels just right for you? This will ensure that when it comes time to deliver your presentation, the last words spoken will be memorable ones!
Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking Today!
If you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to giving a great speech without fear, nervousness, or anxiety.
For resources to develop your public speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, take advantage of the many online resources. Please check out the article ‘Online Resources for Public Speaking‘ for a detailed review of some online resources for public speaking and please leave a comment below with tips you have for overcoming nervousness when presenting.