Fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias on the planet. Who has not shuddered at the thought that once we will have to test ourselves in the role of a speaker and address the strict audience with a report on a complex and confusing topic? Defense of a graduation project at the university, a report to the board of directors, a meeting with business partners, congratulating friends and acquaintances on some holiday – any of these situations may seem stressful to a beginning speaker.
If the person is unprepared for such a strain, he/she may behave in a way that will aggravate the situation, which eventually leads to loss of self-control, panic and, consequently, the failure of public speech. To avoid a fiasco during public speaking, one should use several methods of professional rhetoricians, which are primarily aimed at relaxing the speaker and removing inner obstacles and stiffness…
Under the influence of irritating or stimulating factors on the body, a person unprepared to stress takes a “defensive position.” It manifests itself in the abundance of bustling and unnecessary movements and phrases: someone would interlock the fingers with all the strength available, while others would lose firmness and confidence in their voice or add some parasite words like “well”, “sort of”, “err…” to link their words and sentences into a harmonious unity. Such trifles will reveal your fear of audience, the desire to avoid it or even to escape from it.
Imagine that you have to make a presentation. Why did all these people gather in the hall? Do you think they came just to stare at you and your mistakes? Or do they want to hear what you’re going to tell? The audience is more interested in you, your knowledge, thoughts, and ideas.
Your viewers come with a friendly attitude to you. They always give you some credibility and are ready to hear your nervous introduction to the presentation.
What specific actions can help control nervousness before a presentation?
Try to choose an interesting topic which you are familiar with and always be ready for action. Someone relies on improvisation. This might work, but it more often leads to a disaster. Managers are especially fond of this method because they rarely get realistic feedback – their subordinates will praise them even if they made every effort to stay awake during the chief’s speech. You should be aware of the subject; you should not care whether to speak for two minutes or for two hours, whether to address professionals or to explain the problem to your mother. Good preparation and a fascinating topic will give you confidence.
Plan the continuity of the presentation. Remember an exam session at the university: at an oral exam someone feels more comfortable being the first to take it, while others prefer to stay in the waiting room a little longer, calm down on hearing that other students have passed the exam successfully and only then go and answer all the examiners’ questions. The underlying principle is the same.
Start with a pause. Before you begin talking, take a deep breath and exhale. Once again, breathe in and start.
Remember that you are not alone: about 20% of experienced speakers are noticeably worried each time they appear on public. In addition, a little excitement is even useful: it mobilizes the body’s power to perform better. The irony is that the best way to “protect” yourself from the audience is to completely abandon self-defense and pay all the attention to the audience rather than to your fears. Speak with pleasure!