Hate public speaking?
Welcome to the club. Of all the phobias out there, public speaking is number one, affecting 3 out of 4 people. It's only natural that if public speaking is not something you're already used to, then the prospect of it is absolutley daunting.
However, you don't need to let your fear of public speaking stop you from taking a position that you're being offered or shy away from an honor you are receiving. Remember, overcoming anxiety is possible and you can walk away with a successful speech or presentation.
Here are a few tips on how you can deliver informative, entertaining, engaging presentations without passing out.
1. Embrace Power Poses
You've probably seen the Ted Talk where Amy Cuddy discusses the effect that "power poses" can have on our hormonal balance and therefore on our mood when going into stressful situations. Though there is some argument to the validity of this research, power poses can certainly make you feel more confident. And one thing is for sure: even if the science is faulty, they definitely make you appear less stressed and more empowered.
Before you go on stage and even during your rehearsals, make sure you assume a position of power by standing up straight, keeping your legs shoulder distance apart, and keeping your chest high. You will command far more respect, and people will assume that you are confident in what you're saying.
2. Practice, then practice more
Being well prepared is the number one best way to stay confident when public speaking. If you are nervous about a speech, make sure that you take the time beforehand to rehearse it in a meaningful way. This doesn't necessarily mean memorizing it, because things inevitably come up when you are presenting live, and if all you have in your tool belt is memorization, if you get off track by a question or interruption, you might not be able to get back.
Instead, cut your presentation into parts and then memorize the order of those parts. Use images or code words to keep track of which part comes in this order. This way, if you get off track, you can just skip to the next section, or if you run out of time, you can skip a section.
Once you've got that down-- Practice. Don't just read it over and informally practice. You need to pretend that you are doing the presentation for real from start to finish. Find someone to listen and do dress rehearsals until you are truly comfortable. Dress how you plan to dress during the real thing. Use the tools, like a microphone or powerpoint, that you will use during the real thing.
If you plan to take a medication like Xanax before your presentation, try to take it before you rehearse as well so that you are in a similar state of mind. Using Kava kava can also provide a very relaxing effect. Whatever you do, don't skip out on rehearsing-- you will regret it if the first time you really do your presentation is at your presentation.
3. Fake It 'Till You Make It
Even if you have an amazing presentation and practice until you're blue in the face, when the moment arrives and you see the crowd staring back at you, you're going to have nerves. When this happens, it's time to just pretend.
Do your best to appear confident, and ride out the shaking hands or sweating brow. It's only by getting through the first couple of times that you'll really be able to start feeling comfortable with public speaking.
So don't stress, remember that everyone struggles with this, and just take it one step at a time. You'll be a pro before you know it.