Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

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public-speakingMany people are afraid of speaking in
public. On the list of common
phobias
, it ranks right up there with fear of spiders, heights and small
spaces. The fear can produce a number of effects ranging from sweaty palms and
slight nervousness to a pounding heart and paralyzing panic, but it can be
overcome with persistence and preparation.

Don’t let your nerves stand in the way of
making a speech in public. Instead, follow these tips to become a more
confident speaker.

Know Your Material

Speaking about a topic you are interested
in and understand well is far easier than winging it with new information.
Learn as much as you can about your subject so that if you get off track or
make a mistake, you can rely on your knowledge to bring you back into focus
quickly.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Run through your complete presentation as
often as you can. Practice in the shower, on your daily commute, in front of
friends and family and in front of a mirror. Record yourself with a video
camera so you can find opportunities for improvement, or make a voice recording
that you can listen to throughout the day to refresh your memory. The more you
practice, see and hear your presentation, the better.

Know the Room

Check out the presentation space before you
speak. If possible, arrive early to scope out the stage or speaking area, make
sure the audio/visual system is working and practice using the microphone.

Remember to Breathe

Deep breathing before your presentation can
be very calming. Before you step up to the podium, take a few deep, slow breaths
to ease your nerves.

Focus on Your Material

The audience is more interested in your
information, not your delivery. Remember that they are rooting for you to
succeed, and they won’t judge you for being nervous. In fact, they likely won’t
even notice any mistakes you make. Take a cue from them and stay focused on
your material, not the way you are presenting it.

Don’t Memorize, but Don’t Read Either

A presentation is not a theater
performance, and it is not a reading either. If you memorize your entire speech
word-for-word and forget a section, you’ll feel flustered and struggle to find
the right words to bring yourself back on track. If you have the entire thing
written out, the temptation to read may be too strong to avoid. Find a happy
medium between the two by memorizing
key points
and writing down an outline of your presentation. You’ll come
off as a more natural speaker and be less likely to make mistakes.