Public speaking is many people’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, this fear and anxiety can be overcome with practice and a few simple tips to help you feel more comfortable and confident in front of an audience:
AVOID TOO MUCH TECHNICAL JARGON
Regardless of the technical expertise of your audience, nobody wants to hear too many knowledge-driven facts and figures; audiences want to be entertained. To achieve this goal, speakers must be cognizant of using too much industry jargon. A better approach is to use conversational language designed to engage your listeners and make the topic personally relatable to them. The cliche “know your audience” has never been truer. Do a little research to find out the key demographics of your audience and why they are there to hear that particular topic. By knowing and understanding this information, you can tailor the speech to inform, interest, and entertain. Lastly, know your main point and get to it quickly to avoid audience fatigue.
FORCE YOURSELF TO SLOW DOWN
The most common mistake that novice speakers make is rushing through the subject. It is easy to deliver a speech while talking too fast for the material. Audience members tend to lose interest and zone out when listening to a faster-paced speech. The only way to combat this rookie mistake is to intentionally speak slower than what feels normal. It is equally important to frequently pause when speaking, even if this feels awkward. Pausing while speaking conveys to the audience that you are being purposeful and diligent in your word choice. Before the big event, take the extra time to practice in front of colleagues who will provide honest critiques or consider videotaping yourself so that you can work out the kinks and land on an optimal pace for the presentation.
While it is important to come across as knowledgeable and genuine, nervous speakers often find it helpful to step outside of the box and create a stage persona to help ease jitters and become more confident. Experiment by practicing different styles to find the one most comfortable for you. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable in this skin and that it exemplifies the strongest aspects of your personality while minimizing the insecurities.
Speaking in public will grow you personally as well as professionally. While many people try to shy away from the opportunity, true leaders understand that speaking confidently in public is an important facet to their career. Like most things, the more you do it, the better you will become. Next time you have the chance to speak in public, whether that be three people in your office or 500 people at your church, accept the offer! Follow the above tips and watch yourself slowly become a confident public speaker!