5 Public Speaking Techniques to Beat Stage Fright
Did you know that public speaking is one of the most common fears people have? Giving a speech, presentation, or even hosting a discussion makes people very anxious. Even if you practiced a lot and prepared your speech, actually standing in front of a crowd can feel stressful. Unfortunately, in today’s world, avoiding public speaking is almost impossible. No matter what field you’re in, you’ll have to face the crowd someday. So here are a few tips to help you prepare for that day. These 5 tips will help you improve public speaking skills and avoid the stage fright that plagues so many people.
1. Use your personality to your advantage as a good public speaking technique
Don’t talk to the audience like they’re a bunch of computers! Even if you’re speaking about a formal or technical topic, it’s important to connect with the audience. Try starting with an anecdote, a joke, or something relatable. You don’t have to joke around or sound informal the whole time. That would be too distracting and get in the way of your actual speech. However, beginning and ending with more casual language is a good public speaking strategy. It will make the audience more interested in what you’re saying. More importantly, it’ll help you feel more relaxed. If you treat public speaking like an interaction between two friends, it’s a lot less stressful. Try building a relationship with the audience and treating them like your friends. Remember they’re people, too. Lastly, starting and ending with anecdotes also indicates to the audience that the more formal section of your presentation is over. It’s a good organization strategy as well as a public speaking one.
2. Non-verbal communication is just as important as words
Have you ever watched a really good TED Talk? Most of the people invited for TED Talks are great at public speaking. Look closely, and you’ll see that this is because they excel at non-verbal communication. In other words, they use body language, gestures, and eye contact to speak effectively. That helps them project confidence and engage with the audience. When you practice for your next big speech or presentation, keep body language in mind. Practice walking around, using your hands, and making eye contact with the whole room. Not only will this make you a better public speaker, but it’ll also help you build your own confidence. You’ll feel less awkward and anxious because you already have a plan for what to do with your hands and body. Remember, nothing looks more awkward than a person standing stiff in one place while talking! Use your whole body to look relaxed, prepared, and confident.
3. Don’t read out loud from a script
Reading from a script is a quick way to lose your audience’s attention. When words sound too rehearsed or planned out, their attention tends to wander more often. It’ll also make you look less sure of yourself to have your eyes glued to a script the whole time. Remember from the previous tip, you need to be making eye contact with your audience and always connecting with them. Therefore, avoid scripts whenever possible. Instead, try making a flashcard with quick points. Use an outline for prompts, and fill in the rest yourself. That way, your words will sound more organic and engaging. It also gives you more opportunities to use eye contact and gestures to your advantage. Practice in advance so you’re prepared to say what you want, but make sure you don’t sound very monotonous by repeating things word for word!
4. Make good use of slides and visual aids
Having presentation slides can be very helpful. It gives you visuals to focus on and base your words around. It’s also useful to have examples of what you’re speaking about, or statistics and data to support your speech. Create slides with many pictures and a few words so that the audience doesn’t have to read and listen at the same time. If used correctly, visual aids can help make your speech much better and more cohesive. However, one main danger of using visual aids is overuse. Either having far too many slides or putting too many words and pictures. Remember, you’re using slides only to support your verbal communication. They shouldn’t be fighting for the audience members’ attention. Use slides only where you think they’ll be helpful to what you’re talking about. In terms of content, a good rule to follow is no more than 7 words per slide. Similarly, don’t use more than 3-4 pictures per slide. Make sure your slides are interesting and connected to what you’re actually talking about to avoid confusing the people watching.
5. Accept your stage fright
No matter how much you prepare, you’ll still have butterflies in your stomach before presenting. And that’s okay! Even popular comedians, talk show hosts, and educators still feel stage fright. Don’t feel discouraged or anxious about having stage fright. Instead, make sure you’re well prepared about what you want to say. The other tip to get over stage fright: practice! The first time you have to address a crowd, you’ll feel terrible. But each time after that, it’ll feel easier and easier. You’ll still get stage fright every now and then, but it won’t be as bad. You will already know what to expect and know how to prepare for your speech. So don’t let the stage fright get you down.
A Blog By PAX