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8 Simple Ways to Help You Battle Public Speaking Jitters

Did you know that the average person ranks public speaking higher than death on the scale of ‘things-to-be-soul-crushingly-afraid-of’? It’s something that most people dread, yet will have to do at some point in their lives.

Sure, you can try picturing your audience sitting in their underwear, but there are some much more plausible and practical ways to help you overcome your fear of public speaking.

  1. Practice as much as you can, and then some more.

Let’s face it, the more you practice something, the more confidence you will gain in your ability to perform it well. Read your notes over and over until you know them inside out – that way, you can walk up to that proverbial podium with the assurance that you can deliver your speech in a fluent and expert manner.

  1. Think of it as a conversation.

While you want to take some kind of authoritative stance as a public speaker, there’s no need to sound like a robot. Look at the situation as more of a light-hearted conversation to be shared with mates: it will help you calm down those uncomfortable stomach knots while also making you appear more relaxed and human.

  1. Don’t overthink your audience’s responses.

It can be easy to get caught dwelling on how your speech will be received by its listeners, but often this becomes a dangerous zone to enter. When you start picturing the worst, you hinder your confidence levels. You want to look up from your piece of paper at regular intervals otherwise your audience will become bored and feel disengaged. However, don’t focus on looking at anyone in particular; simply glance up, skim the room, then return to your notes.

  1. …And if the worst does happen, make sure you’re prepared for it.

Remember that few things in life ever run smoothly. If you’re worried that the slightest setback will trip you up and re-tie those stomach knots, make sure you can prepare for it the best way possible. Practice your speech over your iTunes playlist on shuffle so you can become accustomed to unexpected environmental sounds, or try dropping your notes, picking them up and relocating your place. Once you acknowledge that these things can happen and that you can tackle them in a calm and reassured way, you give those confidence levels a subtle stroking.

  1. Even so, envision yourself nailing it.

When you focus on the potential negatives that could occur, you are practically inviting them to crystallise into reality. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge that mistakes are an inevitable part of life, but one way to boost your public speaking confidence is by imagining yourself getting up there and absolutely smashing your speech. Often, positive thinking can lead to positive outcomes.

  1. Give yourself a pep talk.

Tell yourself you can do this. Banish all thoughts of failure and simply remind yourself that all you are doing is getting up there and saying a few words, and that is something you are very capable of. You’ve got your notes, you’ve practiced and prepared for this moment, and you are ready to take this on.

  1. Engage in a spot of mindfulness.

If you have the opportunity, take five or 10 minutes beforehand to focus your mind and settle your nerves. If you need a bit of assistance to do this, why not try downloading a meditative app on your phone such as Headspace? Take a few deep breaths, acknowledge your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, accept them, move forward, and step out there confident and calm.

  1. Keep getting back up there.

The more you volunteer yourself to take on public speaking roles, the more you become accustomed to it. Soon enough, it will become second nature to you. Few people naturally thrive off public speaking; even those public figures you admire for their seemingly cool, calm and collected demeanours have usually had to work hard to get to that point. Eventually, the art of public speaking will boil down to simply having a chat with a group of people about something you know that you can educate them on.

 

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