How to Feel Comfortable with Public Speaking
What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you are asked to speak publicly. Some people enjoy this and find that it comes naturally, but some experts estimate that as much as 77% of the population has some level of anxiety regarding public speaking*.
Public speaking is something that leaders are expected to do, and if you are one of the many who are not so keen on it, don’t worry – there are things that you can do to help prepare for speaking in public and feel more comfortable in these situations.
The best thing to do when public speaking is firstly, make sure that you are suitably prepared. Make sure that you are comfortable with the subject you are speaking on, decide on what your objective is when delivering your presentation, or speech.
Build your story in logical, sequential steps
Have a clear idea of where you are starting from, and where you want to end up at the end of your presentation or speech.
- Keep your focus on your key message
- Get the balance of content right.
- Make it easier for people to follow and understand your story
Your Toolbox – Know Your Audience
Consider the language you will use, the level of formality, attitude and tone and body language. It is also important to understand who your audience is, and what is expected from you. Are they expecting to take away clear teaching points, or is it simply to spark conversation and discussion? Know how long you must speak and aim to summarise your points in a clear and concise manner.
Also think about what you will use to illustrate your points in your speech. Will you use slides? Will it be interactive, inviting questions and discussion? These aspects will alter the way in which you prepare.
A good way to help you feel more comfortable and confident in public speaking is to practice. Practice to the mirror, to friends, family, whoever. The more you get used to delivering in this way, the more it will begin to come naturally to you, leaving those anxieties at the door. Time will help you here, but of course it is usual for even the most seasoned public speakers to still have some nerves, which is also natural.
Presenting is like flying an airplane – You are the Captain
Be purposeful. – Have a clear intent, message, and desired outcomes.
Be prepared. Know the arrangements, time and space you have to deliver in. Create engaging content and be for anything.
Be present. Be engaging and connected in your content and with the audience. This will help you to be in control of yourself, the space and time.
Be Confidently Nervous
Use your nerves positively. Remember, no one wants you to fail! If you prepare well, you will more easily be able to avoid the tell-tale signs of nerves. Think about questions that may come up, so you can have your potential answers prepared in advance. Make sure to speak with people before your presentation and make eye contact during it. This is often easier said than done and may not come naturally, but if you can do this, your audience will be more engaged.
If you feel you would like some additional help in working on your confidence with public speaking, we have a Presentation Skills course that would be ideal. Take a look at our website for more information and get in touch if you would like to learn more.
* Heeren A, Ceschi G, Valentiner DP, Dethier V, Philippot P. Assessing public speaking fear with the short form of the Personal Report of Confidence as a Speaker scale: confirmatory factor analyses among a French-speaking community sample. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013;9:609-18. doi:10.2147%2FNDT.S43097