It’s only natural to be a little nervous before giving a speech. These tips are designed to help you overcome your nervousness, and will help you to give a professional presentation.
- Know your material. If you have been asked to give a speech, chances are you have something valuable to share with others. Knowing your subject makes it easier to talk to others about it. It’s often a good idea to keep some information in reserve – things don’t always go to plan and you can always use this info during a question and answer session.
- Use the audience. It’s always easier to speak in front of people you know. Invite some friends or colleagues to attend who may be interested in the topic. Audience members are there because they are interested in what you have to say. They don’t want to see you fail. Use them to gain confidence, by looking for their reassuring nods.
- Practice! You will become more confident each time you give your speech, so rehearse out loud every opportunity you get. Don’t be embarrassed to rehearse in front of a mirror; it gives you the chance t o see yourself as others will. Also, if you will be using electronic equipment such as a laptop or data projector during your speech, make sure you practice using these too.
- Try to relax. You will speak with more confidence and authority if you are relaxed. Try some deep breathing before you are due to begin. Harness your nervous energy, and use it to your advantage, to present a vibrant, animated speech.
- Know the physical room. Ensure you are familiar with the environment in which you will give your speech. If you have never been to the venue before, try to arrive early. Stand at the front of the room, so you know what to expect. Try out any equipment you will be using. If you have never used a microphone before, ask if you may briefly speak into it, before the audience arrives.
- Concentrate on the message. If you focus on your message instead of the presentation of it, you will overcome your nerves, giving a more professional presentation. Focus on the facts.
- Visualise yourself presenting your speech. Before you begin, imagine yourself speaking. Visualise your voice as being loud, clear and confident. Imagine the audience listening intently and then clapping; that will definitely boost your confidence!
- Don’t apologise. If you stumble over your words, don’t stop to apologise. It’s quite likely the audience didn’t even notice. Just gather your thoughts and continue.
- Contact a public speaking group. There are many public speaking groups you can join who can help you gain confidence in speaking in front of an audience. Toastmasters and Rotary are just two of the many organisations around.