If you have not done much public speaking before, standing on a stage in front of a crowd of people can be terrifying. The room is silent and all eyes are on you. There is an air of expectancy. That's when public speaking nerves kick in.
Your mouth feels dry. Your palms start sweating. Your hands begin to shake and your knees start to tremble. Your heart is pounding so hard you are convinced that everyone in the room can hear it. You wish beyond all else that the floor would open up and swallow you. You are terrified to open your mouth because you are not sure what kind of sound will emerge. It could be a squeak, or a guttural noise that people often make when they are asleep and dreaming and try to talk.
Here's the explanation: You've got stage fright! But happily, it is possible to overcome and control.
These are some of the things that you can do to control your nervousness:
o Practice speaking often, using different topics to increase your versatility.
o Study the topic you are going to talk about so that you are well versed in it.
o Plan well to be sure you know what you are going to cover in any speech.
o Make sure you know how to pronounce any technical words or proper names (for people or for places).
o Learn how to breathe correctly to improve the tone of your voice.
o Learn how to breathe correctly because it will also make you feel more relaxed.
Remember that confidence is a great companion. If you are well prepared and know what you are doing, you are already half way there.
And the wonderful thing is that once you start to talk, your confidence will usually take over, and the stage fright will vanish.
Now here are a few more helpful tips to help you get through the talk, because there will inevitably be times that your nervousness will reappear. Expect it. For instance, you may suddenly become aware of the fact that yours is the only voice you can hear. Well you ARE the speaker silly! But this realization can be off putting, even when you talk to a small group of people. It's the same concept. You are the target of their attention and there is that same air of expectancy. Not everybody finds this easy.
But again, if you are well prepared then you will find you can get over it. So:
o Always make sure you check out the room you are going to speak in beforehand. If you are using a microphone, check that it works. If you are using a screen for images, check that it works. Do not leave anything to chance.
o Try to relax before you have to start speaking. Chat to members of your audience – that way it'll feel more like you are addressing friends, because their faces will be happily familiar.
o Keep a glass of water close to where you will be when you talk. If your throat gets dry, you'll need it.
o Run through your notes or keywords just before you start speaking. Then focus.
o If your hands are shaking, put your note cards on a table near to you so that if you need to, you can pick them up when you settle down and stop shaking.
o Once you start, keep on talking and get to the end – even if it does not seem to be going exactly as planned.
o Do not stop and apologize for stammering or saying um. Just try not to do it again.
o Look at your audience, but focus on those friendly faces that you recognize.
o Make eye contact with several people in the room. Do not just talk to one person.