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Five Powerful Tips for Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety

It is easy to understand why speaking in public makes people anxious. Doing it requires standing on a stage with the spotlight on you and giving a presentation while you are the focus of attention for everyone in the room.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that, according to research, around one in five people experience public speaking anxiety, or PSA.

But fear not. You can overcome PSA, and top public speaking coach Jose Ucar has some excellent tips to help you deal with it effectively and become a powerful communicator.

Five Powerful Tips for Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety

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Practice, Practice, Practice. Then Practice Some More.

I used NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to develop the below sequence of thoughts to go through in my head every time I prepare a speech. This enables me to achieve a consistent outcome and should provide you with a good guide for devising your own strategy.

  • Days before I go on stage, I have a desire to share something I’m passionate about.
  • I enthusiastically go over the concept and ideas in my head and visualise speaking them.
  • Then I specifically visualise going on stage and delivering my speech over and over until I feel fully confident about actually doing it.
  • Next, I practice my presentation and record myself. If I make mistakes, I remind myself that they are normal and inevitable.
  • Then I watch my speech, take note of how I come across and practice it again if I feel I need to. I know that the more I do it, the better I will get, and that there is no failure, only feedback and learning.

When you develop your method, remember that consistency and patience are vital. So be patient with yourself, accept that you will make mistakes, and understand that you will improve if you keep practising.

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Develop a Ritual to Calm Yourself Before You Speak

If you go on stage without taking the time to prepare yourself mentally, your adrenaline will take over, and your speech will go awry. I discovered exactly what this was like when I froze during my first presentation in front of a big audience.

However, I did not let that experience put me off. I devised a method that gives me a sense of calm before I speak. I imagine everyone applauding me at the end of a great speech, with my favourite song playing through the loudspeaker. This enables me to focus on what I have to do to achieve that result, and I highly recommend trying something similar.

While visualisation like this works for many people, you might find other techniques more effective. Some performers listen to particular songs before they step into an arena; others read inspirational quotes or look at pictures of cute animals or beautiful landscapes. The only thing that matters is finding a suitable method for you.

Once you have completed your ritual, take a few deep breaths to relax your body, then stride confidently onto the stage.

Embrace Your Discomfort

“Enjoy the pressure. Enjoy the stress. Enjoy being uncomfortable. And don’t shy away from it; embrace it.”

This attitude propelled American golfer Gary Woodland to glory at the US Open in 2019. It is excellent advice for all public speakers, who are sure to experience uncomfortable moments during their presentations.

As Woodland’s words imply, the secret to overcoming difficulties is to embrace them. So if you lose your way during a speech, do not look down or away in shame. Look at the audience, smile warmly, and admit that you went blank for a moment. Then calmly continue when you remember what you wanted to say.

The same concept applies when you do not know the answer to a question. You will create a better impression if you do not try to come up with a clever response and instead simply admit that you do not know. It is all part of your quest to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Use Concise Notes and Visual Prompts

There are all sorts of little things that can help you while you are on stage, but it is important not to over-use any of them because that will hinder your ability to communicate effectively.

The first of these speaking aids is notes. They are definitely important because they enable you to stay on track and cover all the topics you intend to include in your speech. However, it is better to keep them short to ensure you keep on looking at your audience and not down at a piece of paper.

Visual prompts can also help your presentation. They give the audience something else to focus on other than you and assist the flow of your speech.

Develop Positive Body Language

Body language not only makes a big difference to how your audience perceives you, but it also makes a big difference to how you perceive yourself.

If you move around the stage slowly and confidently, you will feel in control. If you look at the faces of your listeners, you will feel connected to them. And if you make positive, welcoming gestures with your hands, you will feel a sense of calm.

If you want to start developing specific body language that will help give an inspirational speech when you go on stage, I recommend the following:

  • Stand still.
  • Position yourself at the front of the room (location of authority).
  • Point your toes forward.
  • Stay balanced with weight on both feet.
  • Keep your palms up if you wish to be perceived as approachable.
  • Turn your palms downs if you want to inspire credibility.

Summary

Public speaking is a common fear. The good news is that this fear does not have to stop you from delivering a fantastic speech. These tips will help you feel calmer and more confident on stage. They will also help you forge a stronger connection with your audience. So what are you waiting for? Start practising!

Jose Ucar
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Jose Ucar
TEDx Speaker, NLP Master Trainer, Communication & Public Speaking Coach
Subjects of Expertise: Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Public Speaking, Communication Skills
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Jose Ucar
TEDx Speaker
NLP Master Trainer
Communication & Public Speaking Coach

Subjects of Expertise

Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Public Speaking
Communication Skills

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