Are you one of the people who is anxious about public speaking? You’ve got lots of company—approximately 75% of Americans are. No matter how clever you are about avoiding this task, one day all eyes in the room will be focused on you as you lead a meeting, present at conference or make a wedding toast.
Here are some tips to prepare for the occasion:
- Adopt a goal of speaking confidently – not flawlessly. Concede that you’re not comfortable speaking yet, but you are starting a process to become a self-assured speaker.
- Visualize success – what will the room look like? See yourself at the podium. What does the audience look like? What are you wearing? Are you holding a microphone? How does your voice sound? Does the audience applaud?
- Practice your remarks until you feel you’re on top of them. After you’d done a few run-throughs, practice in front of a friend and ask her to record it.
- Memorize the first few lines of your speech – not the whole thing. Speaking those lines easily will get you off to a relaxed start.
- Take care of your body the night before and the morning of your presentation. Alcohol may dry you out and caffeine may amp your nerves.
- Arrive early to the location to check out the podium, the mic and the audiovisual equipment.
- Shut off your phone, including the vibration.
- Shake hands with a few of the audience members.
- If you’re nerves are shaky, try a few box breaths, a calming technique used by Navy Seals. Break each breath into segments done to a count of four: Inhale: silently count 2, 3, 4 Hold In: silently count 2, 3, 4 Exhale: silently count 2, 3, 4 Hold Out: silently count 2, 3, 4.
- As you hear your introduction, let your theme song echo in your mind. Choose music that makes you feel victorious. Mine is Gonna Fly Now, the theme from Rocky. A few other possibilities: We Will Rock You, Don’t Stop Believing, and Simply the Best.
When your speech is over, congratulate yourself . Remember that most of the people in the audience admire your bravery because they’re frightened of public speaking!