- May 23, 2022
- Earl DeMatas
You’re Up Next
The presenter ahead of you has about 2 minutes left in the question-and-answer period, and you’re up next. As your eyes dart from your watch to the presenter, you anxiously await the applause signifying it’s your turn. It looks like you may have a fear of presentations and public speaking.
Fear of Public Speaking
The room goes quiet as you move to the front with all eyes on you. Public speaking or delivering a presentation can be stressful and intimidating. If you’re nervous, you might stutter when you speak, begin sweating, or become agitated as your audience watches it unfold. When anxiety gets in the way, even a 10-minute presentation can seem like it’ll never end.
What Can You Do?
You may have heard you should try to smile while presenting. Smiling can help you relax in stressful situations. It’s a great way to loosen up, disarm the audience and display confidence in yourself and your knowledge of the subject at hand.
Anyone can feel nervous about delivering a presentation. You may constantly pace, feel beads of sweat rolling down your cheek, or your heart could be racing. It’s natural to be nervous, so try to focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths before you begin and focus on maintaining a steady pace. Remind yourself that you have prepared, and you know your stuff.
Start by writing your points down on cue cards. Use a bulleted list to organize your thoughts and prevent you from reading your presentation. You can learn to be a stronger presenter and public speaker, but it will require practice. Be sure to practice your presentation until you get it right.
In The Mirror
Consider reciting your presentation in front of a mirror. This technique will give you a glimpse of what your audience will see. Standing in front of the mirror won’t replicate the environment. However, it will help you learn the material and to get comfortable delivering it, building your confidence.
Friends & Family
Asking friends and family to listen to your presentation is a great way to practice in front of a friendly audience. You also have an opportunity to gauge their reactions, ask questions about how you did and modify your presentation with their feedback.
When you’re nervous, you might speak too quickly as you rush through the material, causing you to finish before your time’s up. If you only have 10 minutes, make sure you can get all your points across within that time. Time yourself during every practice, whether you’re alone, in the mirror, or speaking in front of your family or friends. This will give you an idea of how long your presentation is, and also help you figure out if you are speaking too fast, too slow, or doing it just right.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Even if you are highly prepared, public speaking can be a harrowing experience. Practicing your presentation over and over is the only way to prepare and get more comfortable. Smile, concentrate on your breathing and remember not to read directly from your cue cards. Making eye contact with your audience will keep them engaged with the subject matter throughout your presentation. Be open to suggestions and use audience feedback to continually improve. Don’t forget to time your presentation, speak slowly and clearly, and try to relax. Remember, your audience wants to hear what you have to say. You got this.