Stage fright. We’ve probably all experienced it before. Maybe you freeze under the spotlight, or maybe you just try to avoid the spotlight at all costs. Whatever the case, getting good at public speaking is step one. The words ‘public speaking’ might be enough to send shivers down your spine, but I assure you that it really isn’t that bad if you get to know the basic fundamentals. The purpose of having Public Speaking skills under your belt is to build up your confidence for when you need it most. That being said, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite ‘hacks’, if you will, of delivering a speech.
1. The leading cause for stage fright is worry of how you will be judged and looked at by others, but if I’m being completely honest here, nobody’s really paying too close of an attention to what you’re doing. The audience should be mainly occupied with listening to whatever you have to say. Along with this, though, be sure to make your actions look natural and not jerky or abrupt. I know I said that nobody’s really concentrating on your actions, but occasionally, people will see what you’re doing while presenting. You want the audience’s mindset while looking at you to be ‘oh, he/she is not interesting to look at, I think I’ll just listen to their words’. What you don’t want is if the audience sees you do an unnatural movement and decides to stare at you for the rest of the speech. Awk-ward! If you’re unsure if you’re acting natural or not, here are some actions to AVOID while doing a presentation: clenching and unclenching your fists, fiddling your fingers, staring at your feet, tapping your shoes, making strange facial expressions, laughing a lot, and crossing your arms/hugging your body.
2. Okay, admittedly, the previous tip might not help too much if you have severe anxiety of speaking in front of large crowds. You may feel your heartbeat speeding up, profuse sweating, or even lockjaw. These all cause you to place unrealistic judgements upon yourself based on what you assume others will comment. A simple but effective exercise you could do before a speech is breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds, and out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeating this a few times can help to calm the nerves and hormones in your body that are making you feel nervous. If you’re like me and can’t help but feel like people are watching when you breathe, an effective alternative would be to concentrate your gaze on something solid that has a distinctive pattern and start tracing the lines with your eyes. Personally, I’ve found this to be very helpful before I start presenting.
3. My final tip to you is that you should always memorize your speech really well! Why, you ask? Well, when you’re under pressure or stress, your brain slows down its activity to accommodate for pumping extra blood into your system or helping your body relax. Altogether, this might cause your memory to weaken and you may forget bits and pieces of your job at hand (in other words, you might forget your speech!). To lessen its effect on the quality of your presentation, I strongly recommend that you practice what you plan on saying many times beforehand, so that if you do end up forgetting anything, it won’t affect the quality of your speech too much.
Now, go and wow the world with your newfound abilities to deliver an amazing and insightful speech! Good luck!