The fear of public speaking, also known as speech anxiety, is very common among the general population. This type of social anxiety disorder or social phobia overtakes a person when he or she must speak in public. It may also involve speaking up during a performance review, presenting a project, or addressing colleagues around a conference table. Over 41 percent of people have a hard time speaking in public. Some may experience breathing difficulties, memory loss, accelerated heart rate, sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, and dry mouth when standing in front of groups.
Even though it’s not possible to completely overcome this problem, there are a few things you can do to overcome speech anxiety and feel more comfortable:
Make sure you’re familiar with the topic that is being discussed. Think about the questions your audience may ask. Will you be able to answer their questions? If you’re not familiar with your material, your anxiety will increase. Knowing your topic inside out can make you feel more relaxed. However, this doesn’t mean that you should memorize the speech. Just make sure you have a good outline of facts and information that you can talk about.
Know the Room
Practice your speech in the actual room. Walk around where the audience will be seated. Check out the lectern and equipment in advance. Get familiar with the place. If this is not possible, try to imagine the room when you rehearse. Ask the host to offer you more details about the place where you’re going to deliver your speech.
Focus on Your Material
You’ll feel more relaxed and self confident if you train yourself to focus on your content. Think about the message you’re sending. You can make a difference with your speech. Imagine that you’re talking to a good friend. Make sure your arguments follow smoothly without gaps in logic.
Keep It Simple
When preparing your speech, make it easy on yourself. Keep the language simple and use short sentences. It’s recommended to use a structure and language appropriate to oral rather than written communication.
Take a deep breathe and start strong. Look around the room as though you’re talking to everyone. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact. You know your audience and you have practiced. Turn your anxiety into positive energy. Use the extra adrenaline that you get from fear to deliver a vibrant speech that engages people.
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