Tips to overcome public speaking fears
If you’ve ever been afraid to speak in public, you’ve likely heard the piece of advice to picture the audience in their underwear. Have you ever tried it? Frankly, it doesn't sound like practical or beneficial advice. In fact, it can distract a speaker from his train of thought; or worse, make him laugh while presenting.
When you’re learning how to overcome public speaking anxiety, you first have to identify what about it scares you the most. Are you concerned that you’ll stutter your words? Maybe you’re worried you’ll forget the information.
Fear exerts itself in many ways. You might notice that you have a dry mouth. Maybe you’re sweating, stammering, or shaking. Your heart might beat faster, or you may even feel nauseous. While these are all fairly common responses to speaking in public, they can also be easy checked with the right amount of preparation.
Well-spoken salespeople know that the key to public speaking is organization, practice, and confidence. But what if you aren’t comfortable talking with customers? How do you thrive in sales if public speaking isn’t your forte?
How to overcome public speaking fears before your presentation
- Organization and knowledge are your best friends
If the idea of speaking in front of a crowd—or even just to one or two individuals—makes your palms sweat, planning will put your mind at ease. Before you present your sales pitch, create an outline of what you’re going to say. Even so, don’t feel as if you need to memorize it. Sometimes, simply outlining your thoughts will prepare you enough to present your information.
In fact, one tip I've found to be quite beneficial for public speaking is to write out what to say exactly how I would say it in daily conversation. This way the presentation sounds more personal and less "robotic," yet still knowledgeable.
As they say, knowledge is power. In sales, knowing everything about your products or services can help you seal the deal. Make sure to know your topic completely. Nothing can derail a speech quicker than a question that makes the presenter lose his place, or one he cannot answer.
- Practice makes perfect
If there is one thing you should do when learning how to overcome public speaking fears, it’s simply to practice out loud. Find someone who is willing to listen to you. This person can judge you on two things—the content and the delivery.
Ask them to let you know if you ever start to sound too “salesy” or too technical. You’ll also want feedback on your diction, volume, and nonverbal communication as well.
You should also practice alone and preferably in front of a mirror. Doing this allows you to witness how you’ll appear.
Keep an eye on any patterns you may notice. Do you catch yourself saying the same words over and over again? Make a mental note of what words you’re overusing and move on. At the same time, listen to the flow of your sentences. Are they all short and terse? Are the sentences long winded?
You’ll want a nice flow to your sentence structure and pauses between your sentences. Not only do you need a moment to breathe or regroup, but it also gives your audience time to consume what you’re stating.
- Remain calm
Sometimes the lead up to a presentation is worse than the actual speech. If you’re worried, try to visualize your speech and utilize any relaxation methods. Try practicing deep breathing or meditation.
How to overcome public speaking fears during the presentation
- Engage the audience
It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking in a conference room filled with decision makers or with a single prospect over coffee—it’s important to engage the listener(s).
Make eye contact and ask questions of your audience. Not only will this take pressure off of you, but it will also force your audience to pay attention. You’ll also want to read the audience. Do they look interested, or do they seem bored? If so, shift gears.
- Check your stance
In Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk she discusses how our personal posing dictates how we’ll feel or perform. She suggests we take a “power pose” even if we don’t feel confident.
Just the action of posing will make you feel more confident. Before you speak, stand strong. Carry great posture into your presentation, and you’ll be sure to succeed.
- Embrace the quiet
One more tip—don’t fear silence. If you’re speaking to a crowd, or even to one new prospect, there may be moments following your speech where your audience is silent.
It isn’t necessary to rush to fill the silence with more thoughts. Allow an audience member the opportunity to ask a question. Another person might be taking notes. Once the moment has passed, move on to your next point.
Additionally, remember—whether you're just practicing or presenting—that it is absolutely okay if you stumble your words. They key reaction to possibly embarrassing yourself while giving a speech is to make a light-hearted comment, brush it off, and continue with confidence. You will have finally accepted that small hiccups are acceptable, and more importantly, your audience will admire you and see you as someone who can move past mistakes without being negatively affected by them.
If you’re a confident speaker, you’ll transform prospects into customers in no time. We can help you find high-quality leads. Can you use these skills to win them over? Join QuoteWizard today!
Do you know how to overcome public speaking anxiety? Share any tips you have for our readers in the comments section.