Are you nervous before you speak in public?
Panic stricken, sweating, I would rather be anywhere but here and want to run sprinting away from the auditorium nervous?
I know this fear. I get asked about it all the time. I know rock star talented people that avoid public speaking opportunities because they simply don’t want to deal with the anxiety and misery leading up to the event.
In truth, this is quite normal (speaking in public is often cited as the #1 fear – even over dying). It is also quite manageable.
In our mastermind group we call this very real fear, “throw up nervous.” It can have an adverse effect on performance. It can also ruin the experience of presenting or speaking in public.
To mitigate anxiety I will offer ten tips worth considering prior to any public speaking engagement. So, whether you are preparing for that conference keynote, big sales presentation or rehearsal dinner toast, consider the following:
1. Preparation. It breeds confidence. Know your material. You need to be cruising on auto-pilot when the nerves take over.
2. Know what is coming next. If you are using powerpoint you should have slide order memorized and talk seamlessly from one idea/concept to the next.
3. Start with a question or exercise. Audience participation can ease anxiety and tension.
4. Visualization – hours before meditate and visualize the presentation going. Recall a time prior when you were dead on fantastic. If possible I will try and get into the room the night prior and deliver my presentation (often, alone in the dark). This way my visualization includes the actual physical setting where I’ll be speaking.
5. Control the environment – I back up my content in the cloud, use my own remote, suggest lighting and seating preferences and rock my itunes playlist as attendees enter the room. This breeds confidence and helps me focus on the experience.
6. Tell a story – Make key points with authentic examples you have lived that the audience can identify with or relate to.
7. Involve the audience. Making the session interactive can ensure relevancy and make the experience more personal.
8. Be yourself. Trying to incorporate stand up comedy simply won’t work if you aren’t that funny (I learned this the hard way). Be true to yourself, the material and the message.
9. Manage the clock. 5 minutes early is always better than 10 minutes over.
10. Have fun! The audience wants you to succeed. And even if you are nervous, they never need to know.
Break a leg!
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.