Stage Fright has a solution and it is definitely not running away.
Two of the top fears of most people are dying and standing on a stage. In fact, there is so much fear of public speaking, you might think that people regularly die while giving speeches. Fortunately, that is not the case.
Here are some tips that will help you overcome your stage fears and give a great speech.
Be prepared: Know what you are going to say. Prepare an outline of your main points and put them on index cards or a sheet of paper. Don’t write out your whole speech and read it. There is nothing that will put an audience to sleep faster.
Write your own introduction: Don’t rely on the person who will introduce you to come up with a good introduction. Write it yourself. Your introduction should include your credentials and other important points from your bio. Also include a call to action for the audience, such as the fact that you will be selling and autographing your book after the presentation, or a reason for them to visit your web site. Print out the introduction, double-spaced in large type, so it is easy to read. Send it before the event to the person who will introduce you, and take two copies with you on the day of the speech. Your introduction will get your speech off to a good start.
Dress comfortably: If your clothes are too tight, too short or riding up your . . . uh, you don’t want to dress in a way that will interfere with movement or breathing.
Check out the room: Arrive a little early so you can become familiar with the layout of the room.
- Where will you stand while you speak?
- Is there a microphone?
- How will the audience be seated?
If you are using equipment, such as a projector, try it out to make sure everything is working properly.
Get to know the audience.
As audience members arrive, introduce yourself and chat with them. It will reduce your nervousness later. After all, you won’t be speaking to a bunch of nameless strangers, you will be speaking to Arushi, Akshay, Megha, Yash, and all the other nice people you shook hands with earlier.
Breathe: When you first step up to the podium, take a deep breath then start speaking. If you find yourself speaking too quickly, or inserting fillers such as uh, um, like, you know, slow down and take another breath before you continue.
Remember that the audience is on your side: They came to hear what you have to say. They are spending their time (and perhaps money) to be there, and they are predisposed to like you. Don’t assume they are waiting for you to fail. They aren’t.
With practice, you can become a confident, polished speaker. Take advantage of opportunities to hone your skills. Join Toastmasters or other organizations that give you the chance to speak in a supportive environment. After you survive your first speeches, you may find yourself looking forward to speaking and even enjoying it. Really.