When surveyed of their worst fears, the top two fears were public speaking and death. If you have anxiety over talking in front of an audience, you can follow some simple techniques to remain calm and give your speech well.
1. Breathe. It is ok to pause in your speech, because the pauses you take are generally a lot shorter than you think. Many times, they are not even registered, and sometimes they can be received as a dramatic pause.
2. Make an outline. Writing out your speech is a bad idea, as you will just end up reading off of it, which is bad for eye contact and enunciation. Put your points down ahead of time for organization to keep yourself on track. In addition, if you draw a blank, you can always look down and center yourself. Print it in large type for easy reading.
3. Have Confidence. If you do not have it, fake it. You know what you are talking about, so make it look like you do. People will believe you if you talk with a strong, powerful voice.
4. Make eye contact. Contrary to popular belief, people know when you are looking above them. In addition, they can give good cues as to how well they understand. It is also easier to find people who need questions.
5. Practice ahead of time. Talk to a wall to hear you think. Talk to an audience. It will be awkward and uncomfortable, but ultimately it will pay off because you can figure out your wording and get feedback. Practicing will calm some of your nerves.
6. Leave time for questioning at the end. If people are continually asking you questions, you will get thrown off and you will lose focus. The speech will end up carrying on too long. You may just answer their questions in the next minute.
7. Do not worry too much about timing. Your speech will probably run shorter than you think which leaves more time for questioning. If you are concerned, keep a timer on the table in front of you or look for the clock.
8. Know your fidgets. Everyone has their nervous twitch, like twirling hair or playing with watches. Fix yourself so you cannot fidget. Do not use clicky pens and keep your hair tied back on the day.
9. Instead of using fillers like “Um” and “Uh” take a breath instead.
10. Bring water and tissues. You will get thirsty while talking, and sneezing without tissues is embarrassing.