Have you ever tried to speak in public and your voice just suddenly disappears? Like, even if you do hear a voice – notice I say “a voice” – it is nowhere near your natural voice. It’s strange. It’s shaky. And it’s fine and shrill. That kind of voice is no good for public speaking.
Well, if you’re like me, you’ve probably suffered from one of those horrifying public speaking attacks. Thank God I found some good tips to improve my public speaking skills. Without these tips, I couldn’t have survived college.
As you know, one of the first hurdles to getting into college is the big interview. Interviews can be one of the scariest things to do. But if you think that’s scary. Then wait until its your time to make your presentation in front of a class full of college students and professors. And by the way, you’ll have many of those presentations to make throughout your college life.
You might think that you’re the only one who is terrified of public speaking. But this phenomenon is so popular that there is a term for it
Glossophobia is the term used to describe the fear of public speaking. Around 75% of people struggle with anxiety related to public speaking. Doctors in the U.S have confirmed that around 5-9% of Americans are fearful of public speaking. They have also confirmed that younger patients tend to fear public speaking more.
Now the big question is, how do I get over my fear of public speaking? Well, here are some things you can do to kill your fear of public speaking.
1. Imitate Good Examples
The best way to get good at public speaking is to watch exemplary speakers. That can help you to find strategies to organize and develop the content of your speech. Ted Talks is an online platform that provides videos of exemplary speakers. You can also find great delivery tips to make your presentations so impressive that your audience will be begging to hear more. There are many groups that you can join to help overcome your fear of public speaking. Many colleges in the USA have public speaking clubs and classes. Also you can join a toastmasters club that’s convenient for you. They have lots of resources to help you improve your public speaking skills.
2. Plan Effectively
You usually know in advance when you have a speech or a presentation. So you should give yourself enough time to plan. Make sure that you stay very organized. A good way to stay organized is to make yourself a to do list. Prioritize your tasks and start working on them as soon as possible. To make sure that you stay on schedule, you should write a due date for each task. Then make sure you do your best to stick to these due dates.
What should your plan include?
Research – Before you can talk confidently about any topic, you need to be very knowledgeable about it. As you do your research, try to find answers and solutions to important questions that your audience will have. That way, you will feel more confident about your speech or presentation. You will know that your information will be valuable to your audience. As Michael H. Mescon puts it, “The best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.” So set yourself a realistic timeline to complete your research.
Draft – Having done your research, it is time to organize your ideas and create a draft for your presentation. Outline your main points clearly with effective supporting details. Then decide on your presentation style or format. That way you’ll know what aids to get for your presentation. Aids could include technological devices such as a projector and a laptop. Or aids could include objects or printed materials. Remember to set your timeline for completing this draft.
Refine Content – After completing your draft, it is time to refine your content and make it ready for the public. That means you should make sure that you have strong content based on reliable support. Additionally, you should correct all your mistakes. It is also important to make sure that the amount of content that you have, fits the time frame of your presentation. Having too much or too little information will increase your nervousness. So you do not want to have too little information and then try to speak too slowly to fill the time gap. Or you don’t want to have too much information and then run out of time midway your presentation.
If you are using PowerPoint, make sure that you do not crowd the slides with too much graphics and information. That might be very confusing for your audience. So make sure that your information and graphics are clear and easy to understand. Remember to make time for refining your content on your schedule.
Practice – Now that you have valuable content for your presentation, you need to work on your delivery. What you say is important but how you say it, is what engages the audience. So you need to practice your presentation to get the right tone, pace and gestures. Work on making sure that your delivery skills are on point so that you can properly engage your audience. Do not read your speech or dictate the notes on your slides. Be so familiar with your content that you can speak fluently without relying too much on your notes.
You can video record yourself so that you can acknowledge your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Get your friends and your family members to pose as your audience. They can provide you with useful feedback to make your presentation more effective. Also the more you practice the more familiar you’ll be with your content and the more confident you’ll feel to make the presentation. Aside from making an outstanding delivery, you must make sure that you do not exceed or go way under the time limit. Hence, make sure that you time your presentation during practice to stick to the time limit. Also make sure that you schedule various times to practice.
3. Relax and Think Positively
Having done your best to prepare valuable content and improve your delivery skills, it’s time to relax and think positively. Take some time to clear your mind of negative thoughts. Spend some time to meditate or do some yoga to relax your mind. You know what best relaxes you, so just do it. Focus on doing well. So you have done the preparation, now it’s time to believe in yourself. It’s time to acknowledge that you have great content that people need. Being nervous is natural. But you can try to control it. Just train your mind to think positively. If you’re concerned that you have serious anxiety issues. There are many ways to treat anxiety and nervousness. Breathing exercises, jogging and mental distraction are some good strategies to try.
4. Dress for success
Finally, wear something comfortable and appropriate that you like. The way you dress can make you feel good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, it’ll be easier to feel confident. That confidence can help you to feel more relaxed about making your presentation. That confidence can also help you to feel more optimistic that your presentation will be a success.
5. Be early
Being late for a speech or presentation can ruin everything. You need to show up early so you can set up the necessary equipment. It also gives you time to prepare mentally for your audience. You can use this time to coach your mind to think success into being.
But if you show up late, you’ll become self conscious of your tardiness. So that could make you less confident and you might not even have time to set up your aids.
So stop being so freaked out about public speaking. As Somers White said, “90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” Spend time preparing for your college speech and presentation and you’ll develop the confidence you need to do well.
For more great advice about how to do well in college, check out the other blogs at College Basics.