Even world-leading professional speakers get nervous. Whether talking about global affairs and politics or sports and adventure, the sweaty palms and cotton wool mouth are something everybody has experienced at some point in their careers.
Whether you have won a senior role at work that requires you to present, or are considering a career in professional speaking, the 10 top tips below will help you get over your fears.
1.Organisation and Control
Even professional speakers who have been in the business make sure their thoughts and notes are organised as it helps to settle nerves and help you feel in control. Having structured and planned thoughts greatly reduces anxiety as the mind is prepared to logically tackle points one at a time.
2. Practice for Confidence
Prepare for your speech by creating a script and, over time, gradually reduce the amount you rely on the notes. You will notice that, through multiple readings and recitals, it will become second nature. Practicing in this nature will best prepare you for any comments of questions.
3. Mirror Preparation
This can feel extremely uncomfortable for new or amateur speakers, but rehearsing your speech in front of a mirror is a must. You will be able to focus upon the way in which you deliver your speech physically, from facial expressions and body movements, to gestures and how open you are. Remaining calm when you speak is key.
4. Record Your Speech
Again, recording your own voice can have us recoiling as we cringe at how it sounds. However, listening to your speech from beginning to end will allow you to make notes on pace, intonation, volume, and general delivery. This will allow you to make your speech better and ensure you are feeling confident.
5. Rhythm and Breathing
When you speak for extended periods of time you will notice that you enter into a particular rhythm or flow. This is fantastic for memory and clear delivery. Before delivering your speech concentrate on your breathing, this will not only help relieve nerves, but also help you enter a natural flow.
6. Family and Friends Critique
Performing your speech directly to another person is particularly great for those with limited experience. It will get you used to the notion of speaking in front of others, as well as receiving questions. It is important that your family and friends are completely honest and provide constructive criticism.
7. Invest in Classes
If you are serious about overcoming anxiety and learning to speak well, it can help to invest in some classes or a course. It will help you achieve your goal in a professional manner and, if you are considering professional speaking as a career path, help you have the edge over others.
8. To PowerPoint, or Not to PowerPoint?
PowerPoint can be a very useful crutch to some who suffer with anxiety, but it can also be your worst nightmare if incorrectly used. Having a PowerPoint presentation allows you to have a fantastic resource for your audience to take notes from but can also help you if you lose your train of thought.
9. Lemon Water
Lemon water lubricates the throat extremely well and will help you avoid nervous dry-mouth. If no lemon is available, sip warm or room temperature water. Avoid carbonated or sugary beverages.
10. Utilise Your Nervous Energy
When you think logically your nerves are caused by a form of adrenaline that initiates the body’s fight-or-flight response. This means you have a choice to adopt the nervous energy and transform it into positive energy. Nerves often help us speak better than we ever have before.