Sure, you can all blabber to no end with a bunch of friends, but put a microphone and a few hundred people in front of you and even the person in the back row can hear your knees knock. Here are a few tried and tested methods to overcoming stage fright.
STAGE ONE: Getting ready
1. Breathe a word
There is only one real key to successful public speaking — know it is all right to breathe. All that nervous energy can be transformed into enthusiasm. Count to three before you begin. Don’t forget to pause and smile.
2. Map it out
Create an outline of your speech to jerk your memory when you go blank, or to bring back your focus if you lose your train of thought. Print them out in a larger font size so you can catch them at a glance.
3. Own what you know
Even if you aren’t confident, act it. Your audience can never tell the difference. Always know more than what’s in your speech. Use personal stories, conversational language and humour so you won’t easily forget what to say.
STAGE TWO: While speaking
4. Know your audience
Scan the crowd slowly and look people in the eye. This invites their attention and gives you a positive energy. It would be a good touch to greet some of the audience just to keep it interactive. A friendly presence simplifies the question session.
5. Practise, practise, practise
If you’re of the nervous kind, don’t assume you’ll rock the show by just showing up and babbling. Rehearse your speech with your partners, kids or pets. A great idea to catch verbal mannerisms is to tape it and hear
6. Ironing out the wrinkles
There’s just nothing good that comes from taking questions during the presentation. You’ll run out of time or get derailed. Feel free to tell them that their query will be answered by material you are yet to talk about or at the end.
STAGE THREE: Avoiding bumps in the road
7. Time will wait
Most people tend to run with their words to avoid spilling over the time limit. Always set a specific time to wind things up well before the mark. Keep your watch where you can see it or spot a clock you can see while you speak.
8. Kick the habit
The idea is to keep the audience focused on your material and not you. Whatever nervous habit you possess like twirling your hair, touching your face or playing with your accessories, drop it immediately. Don’t wear anything that rattles or jangles.
9. Shut up
That’s right. Shutting up is a great filler as compared to the annoying ‘um’s and ‘uh’s. Not saying anything sounds more professional than thinking aloud. Also, contrary to what’s popular, don’t apologise. People don’t notice errors unless you draw attention to it.
10. Head above water
The demons of public speaking are dry mouths, sneezes and not being able to help yourself. Your shield is quite basic. Carry a small bottle of water and have tissues in your pocket. Take quick, small sips to avoid the risk of coughs or hiccups.