Key Tips for Reducing Public Speaking Nervousness

October 6, 2015 by  

Controlled nervousness can be an asset by focusing that excess energy in your system to work for you. On the other hand, uncontrolled nervousness can lead to disaster.  whenever you are making a presentation, the best way to overcome nervousness is to prepare REALLY well!

The following hints should help reduce nervousness:
1. Accept nervousness as a normal reaction. Even experienced speakers feel some degree of anxiety. Nervousness is a natural defense mechanism of your body and that burst of adrenalin can actually give you focus and power to do well!
2. Bring along an “aid”, such as great visuals. Most people are visual learners so having good visual aids means you are more likely to be reinforcing the learning of your audience. Great visuals can take some of the pressure off of you as they will help with retention of clarity of the concepts you are presenting.
3. Reduce your dependence on notes. Get rid of notes all together, if you can. Rehearse using your slides as visual cues, NOT a script. You will remember things better from a visual image than from a clump of text. Besides, you should know your material well enough to use the short phrases, visuals for words on your slides to trigger what it is you wish to impart to your audience.
4. Rehearse. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel. You actually need to know your topic inside out, upside down, forwards, backwards and in your sleep. Do NOT memorize! Your understanding of the material and passion for it ought to carry your presentation with strength and inspiration to your audience. If you know your material well, once you get into the presentation, you will forget to be nervous and actually enjoy yourself!
5. Get acquainted with your audience. Arrive early, set up and position yourself so that you can chat with people as they arrive. In this way you will not be speaking to a room full of “strangers”.
6. Relax prior to starting. Sit in the back of the room and take a few slow, breaths prior to starting. The more oxygen you can get to your brain, the clearer will be your thinking processes and the calmer you will be.
7. Pause before you speak. When you arrive at the lectern, take a moment to arrange your notes and smile at your audience. Start with a slower pace than normal until you feel comfortable. Look around and make direct eye contact with those you “met” before the session began. People will be “more on the edge of their seats” if you keep them “waiting” for your pearls of wisdom. But not too long or they will become nervous and so will you!
8. Develop your own style. Your own style will appear natural and be easy for you to use. If you look and feel comfortable, it will set the stage for your audience to do the same.
9. Build in “pressure-releasers.” Shift the spotlight from you to the audience, make your presentation interactive: Get them to raise their hands, answer a question, discuss an issue, answer or questionnaire, try something with a partner, or laugh at a funny anecdote. Momentary pressure releases give your system a chance to calm down and also the more interactive the learning experience, the retentive will be the ideas and information presented.
10. Realize that what you see is not always what you get. The image you portray to your audience is usually better than the way you perceive yourself. Your internal nervousness is not always apparent to your audience. So smile and just “fake it ‘til you make it”!
11. Use your audience as an ally. Your audience wants you to succeed just as when you are watching a speaker you want them to do their best. Ask your audience for help if you stumble or have a problem; laugh at your own mistakes and even tell self-deprecating stories to show that you are human as well.

If you follow these tips you should be able to greatly reduce your nervousness and possible even enjoy your next presentation!