Heart pounding, clammy palms, hands shaking, feeling nauseous, can’t sleep, can’t eat?? Does any of this sound familiar before you have to give a speech?
I definitely know the feeling! I used to be horrified to give speeches. I cannot even remember giving most of my speeches in my teenage years. I don’t even think I looked up at the class. Somehow I made it through each time, but my speeches were incredibly boring and monotone. I’m sure I even made my classmates nervous.
After high school I decided I had to get over this fear! I knew I was going to need to give speeches in college and in my job.
Am I perfect at it now? No, but I do actually think they are kind of fun… many many speeches later. It’s definitely taken a lot of practice.
I started out by forcing myself into situations that required speeches. I like to torture myself! I took classes in college that I knew would require multiple speeches just so I could practice.
Here are some helpful hints I have learned over time.
1- Make sure you really really know your stuff. Do not just memorize the words, but understand what you are going to talk about. Practice the speech in private numerous times so that you can ad lib much of it.
2- Try it out loud by yourself. Practice this several times. Get to where you are no longer staring at your paper or cards.
3- I use cards so that I can ad lib the majority of the speech and the cards are just reminders to keep me on track. Cards are especially good for specific stats or quotes you have to provide.
4- Practice giving the speech to a friend or family member. You can let them know about your fear. There is a good chance speeches are also hard for them.
5- Remember even confident speakers get nervous. They are just good at hiding their nerves.
6- Eat and Sleep well before the speech. This is more important then you may think. Eating healthy and sleeping well heals the body and makes it strong.
7- Take a couple deep breathes before entering the room to speak.
8- If you can, make a joke before you start your speech. Sometimes this helps, if it goes over well. I know if I can make the group laugh it definitely lessens my fears.
9- Very important, take breathes while your are doing your speech! Take a small pause, take a breathe, then start speaking again. Short pauses will help you breath better throughout the speech and calm your nerves. This will also help you slow down.
10- Fluctuate your voice, use eye contact, speak slowing, and use pauses. You’ll find your audience will stay more involved, which will in turn create more confidence in you.
11- If possible, use slides or other presentation tools. These tools take the focus off you and will help you relax.
12- Wear an outfit that you feel confident in.
Public speaking is quite hard for many people, so do not give up.
Concurring public speaking gives you a motivational boost. I’m so excited (and admittedly still a bit relieved) when I am done speaking. I no longer blank out, people seem interested in what I’m saying and ask questions, and I feel exhilarated when I’m done. Make public speaking fun!