Of all fears, public speaking is among the most common.
The thought of speaking in front of an audience sends many people into a cold sweat, and remains a key trope in many films and TV shows, especially about high schoolers.
But when we become working adults and move up the career ladder, public speaking is sometimes necessary. At the very least, it can improve the possibilities of advancement and open up new opportunities.
That’s why Karen McCleave believes facing this fear can be so powerful.
Karen Mccleave feels that public speaking can offer excitement and self-growth. By learning how to arrange and rehearse a speech or presentation, it’s possible for every professional to level up their skills — and themselves.
Maintain eye contact with the audience
Eye contact is a powerful thing. Even without speaking perfectly or using lots of body language, eye contact keeps an audience engaged.
By locking eyes with various people in the room throughout your presentation, you let everyone know that this is a time for focus and inclusion.
It will improve your confidence and help convince your audience that you should be taken seriously, according to Dom Barnard, co-founder of VirtualSpeech, an award-winning VR education platform for soft skills training, with a focus on communication skills.
“Positive eye contact helps you build rapport with your audience and keeps them engaged with your presentation,” Barnard said. “It also gives them a sense of involvement and conveys your message on a personal level.”
Like it or not, the clothes you wear make an immediate and lasting impression.
When you’re preparing for a presentation, try wearing clean and ironed formal wear. Also, pay attention to your personal appearance. That could mean combing your hair, shaving your beard, and/or polishing your shoes.
You want to dress and groom yourself in a way that instills confidence in both you and your audience. Worrying about appearance during your presentation will only distract you from delivering your script well and connecting with others.
What if you forget the script?
So you forget some words, or maybe you misspeak in a way that sounds funny. The important thing is not to worry about it too much.
If you make a mistake and feel self-conscious — then acknowledge it. Turn your mistake into a self-deprecating joke. It will connect with your audience and make you seem relatable, not stupid.
One of the best things you can do to prepare is simply practice. The greatest speakers in history, like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., prepared by reciting their speeches from memory in a mirror. The more you practice, the more confidence you’ll feel when you finally step onto the stage.
Many presentations typically end with a question-and-answer session between the speaker and audience. This segment of a presentation can provoke a lot of anxiety for people.
That’s likely because it requires the ability to improvise responses to questions that you might not have prepared for.
Remember: It’s okay not to know the answer! Confidence and humility can easily go hand-in-hand. Respond to each question with humility, especially when you do know the answer. That will earn you trust from the audience, so you’ll be forgiven for not knowing how to respond later.
If you find yourself tensing up over a question, try saying: “I’m not sure. If you’d like, we can discuss this more after the presentation.” Now you’ve diffused the situation while also giving the questioner the opportunity to pursue the answer later.
In essence, all the fears about public speaking are really the same one: fear of judgment.
What will people think of you? What if they judge you or mock you? How will you cope with the shame of that judgment?
Those are fears that everyone can relate to, and it’s why facing the fear of public speaking can result in massive self-growth.
By stepping in front of an audience and speaking our mind, we make ourselves vulnerable, and that fear can prevent us from living our lives.