Photo: Klaus Vedfelt (Getty Images)
Public speaking divides the nation. Some people love it, others hate it, and the rest of us feel our throats drop into our stomachs at the thought of it. Regardless where you land, there’s a specific kind of fear that comes with having to speak in public.
But what if you could take that fear and use it to effortlessly speak to an audience? The easiest way to do this is by being yourself. In doing this, you create a connection with your audience and come across as genuine.
Former public speaking coach Kristi Hedges says, “Watch a few TED talks. You’ll find plenty of reticent, wonky presenters who are fascinating. What makes a person a strong presenter is that their presence shines through, showing their passion and expertise for their topic.”
It might not feel awesome, but it’s also not a bad thing. In fact, a case of the jitters can actually be helpful. You might want to internalize it into something negative, but it’s not. Anxiety is your brain’s way of saying you’re excited. If you’re excited it’s because you care, you’re halfway to a great speech.
Start and Finish Strong
Secondly, focus on your introduction. This is the part that draws your audience in, so you should know it inside and out. The same goes for your conclusion, which should basically just be a fun rewording of your introduction. If you have these parts down pat, you can fumble part of the middle and no one will be the wiser.
Stop, Drop, and Breathe
Next, if you find yourself tumbling into a panic, stop and take some deep breaths. You can roll your eyes at this, but deliberate breathing tones down anxiety. Plus, it will help you calm down and find your pacing, which will prevent things from getting out of hand if you do mess up.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
Speaking of mistakes, don’t let them trip you up. They can happen to the most seasoned professional. If you lose your place, forget a word and get confused, just go back to your deep breathing. You don’t have to be perfect; in fact, you’re more relatable if you fumble. You’re only human, and don’t forget it.
Finally, don’t forget that the audience is on your side. By being yourself, you give them a chance to connect with you on a topic you’re helping them understand. In doing this, you’re a conduit for exchanging information and that’s amazing.
Do you have any tips for public speaking? If so, let us know in the comments!