They say that the two biggest fears in life are death and public speaking.
The first is inevitable at some stage so it’s best not to waste precious time by worrying about it, but public speaking is optional. You don’t have to put yourself through it but we do it anyway!
We do it for increased profile for ourselves or our business; we do it for our family at events like weddings, christenings – even funerals; we do it at social gatherings for friends. Being confident speaking in front of groups of people is a massive advantage both socially and in business and we all admire those who can stand up and engage an audience effortlessly. Or is it?!
Having spoken to a number of apparently natural speakers they all have three things in common. They know their subject, they have practiced their presentations and delivery so often that it appears second nature – but thirdly, and most revealingly, they ALL suffered from presentation nerves when they started out. After becoming regular speakers on the presentation circuit by putting themselves through it time and again, the process became easier and easier as they became more confident and assured.
So what about these nerves for the vast majority of us who don’t speak in public very often? Two of the best tips were also above:
- Spend time writing well researched knockout material
- Know your subject
- Practice timings, delivery, intonations
- Know your audience.
- Don’t expect to be word perfect – everyone makes mistakes.
- Remember that a few nerves are good – it’s adrenaline!
- Pick out one member of the audience and imagine you are just talking to that person.
Remember that none of us are natural speakers but with practice we can improve.
One great way of understanding your own performance as a speaker is to ask someone to video you delivering your presentation. You will watch it back realising that the imperfections and mistakes that you made and were conscious of at the time were not that bad after all. You will also learn about your delivery style and where you could vary it, pause, add humour, change tone of voice – it’s both a reassuring and self -educational exercise.
I’m not a great speaker by any means but I’m learning to be better – you can too!