Public speaking can be tough but not impossible. You can overcome it.
You’ve been asked to do a presentation at the next staff meeting. You have to pitch potential investors for your new business. Semester’s over and you have to present your capstone project or complete the important step of defending your dissertation. And you feel sick and want to do nothing but hide. You’ve got this!
Public speaking anxiety is super common but not impossible to overcome. The reasons we feel this anxiety can vary but it all boils down to one source – fear of uncertainty. What if I mess up or forgot what I’m supposed to say? It’s easy to fall into the trap of uncertainty which then distracts you from getting a plan for the presentation.
So let’s get that uncertainty under control:
1. Planning – If you have any angst about public speaking, you should not just plan to “wing it”. The people who do this well can do it because they have had load of practice and experience. If that’s not you, get a plan but don’t over think it. Do some research if you’re unfamiliar with the topic. Choose no more than 3 main ideas. Past 3 key points, humans have shown signs of forgetting and losing interest. Three strong points that you can deliver on will always be better than 8 that you struggle to connect. This helps you to lessen the fear of uncertainty about forgetting your content.
2. Practicing – Again, in the vein of not winging it, practice is helpful. You should get used to saying the words you plan to use in your presentation so you can hear how they sound and get a sense of the flow. You can also get the nerves out, if you notice that you’re speaking quickly because you’re nervous, you can use your practice time to work on pace and making sure the ideas connect.
3. Perspective – Before you give the speech or presentation, take a moment to check in with your thinking. If it’s overly negative or still fearful, take the opportunity to shift it. if you’ve planned and you’ve practiced, then all you can do is your best. It may not be perfect (nothing is) but the world won’t end. There will be great moments and some points that you might want to do differently next time. It overall is RARELY an all out failure.
Go forth, prepare and you got this!