Public speaking. The mere sound of those two little words can incite a fear in people greater than that of death itself. Well, fear no more! Here are some tips and tricks on how to improve your public speaking skills, and show those presentations who's boss!
1. Prepare Yourself: Try not to procrastinate. The more familiarity and time you spend with your topic, the more comfortable you will feel speaking in front of all those people. Knowledge is power, after all! And here's a thinking tip to help reduce your fear: The people you are presenting to will not know as much as you on the topic. You're the expert here!
2. Practice: Yes, practice makes perfect. Once you've gotten your presentation prepared, practice your public speaking before it's due. Try it first with one friend, then a small group of friends or a study group. The more you practice your public speaking, the easier it will get. I promise!
3. Warm-Up: When giving a presentation, I find that I feel more comfortable the longer I stand up there and speak in front of everyone. So, I started finding ways to warm myself up before delving deep into the actual presentation. Try telling a joke or a related story, something you know well, to your audience before you begin. Plus, laughing helps alleviate nerves!
4. Use Cue Cards or PowerPoint: Don't try to memorize every word of your presentation. That just puts extra pressure and work on yourself. Instead, use cue cards or a PowerPoint to help you remember what your talking points are. Do not, however, read directly from your cue cards or PowerPoint! This makes you sound like a robot, and may cost you points on your presentation.
5. Think Positively: To quote Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't - you're right." Don't let your dread of public speaking take over. Instead, try to repeat to yourself some positive thoughts, such as, "I'm prepared and know my topic," "No one in there knows as much as me on this issue," "I am a smart and capable person," and so on. Another thing to keep in mind is that much of how you think and feel about yourself translates to the outside world. When you believe you will succeed, and feel confident in your knowledge of the presentation topic, people will notice. You'll do great!
I used to be a mess before any public presentations, but by practicing these methods, I've learned how to cope much more effectively. What are some other strategies you've found to be helpful? Please share your thoughts and comments below!