Spiders, snakes, heights and ghosts don’t seem so scary after you think about public speaking, right? Are your palms sweating just thinking about it? Believe us, you aren’t alone.
The Public Speaking Anxiety Scale conducted a study which showed that one in five people experience public speaking anxiety, or PSA, making it one of the most common types of anxiety today.
At Blue Moon, we’ve come to love public speaking and are strong believers that it shouldn’t be perceived as such a scary topic. It is in fact an incredible, empowering and truly liberating opportunity, to stand in front of a friendly crowd and talk to them about something you feel strongly about, or indulge in a subject matter you specialise in. As experts in Communication, we want to share ways that have helped us to overcome PSA to ensure that you can deliver a more memorable speech, and dare we say it, learn to enjoy it!
Here are our top tips:
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out….
We’ve all been overwhelmed with nerves, but the best way to slow your heart down and get back to a state of sanity is to take big, deep breaths. Before you deliver your speech, just take a few minutes to focus on your breathing and calm your body. Being composed and peaceful is the best way to feel before a speech.
Start to get in a positive mindset and tell yourself to look forward to the experience ahead. Public speaking is not easy by any stretch but it will shape you as an individual, so embrace it at every step. You will feel so accomplished when it’s over so try and think about the positive feeling of accomplishment before you get up there!
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out….
2. Use Minimal Notes
The initial thought of public speaking is enough to make you feel frantic, but the idea of forgetting your speech cranks your nerves up to a whole new level! So you might think it best to write everything down word for word. However, this is the worst thing you can do!
Reading a script word for word not only strips the authenticity away from your delivery but it can create a barrier between you and your audience, whereby you spend more time looking down than reading the room. What’s more, becoming too reliant on your notes, can inadvertently make you lose your spot. Knocking your confidence as well as your thought trail (cue more anxiety than ever before!!!!)
Instead, keep your notes to a minimum. You are an expert in what you are talking about so trust yourself to be able to deliver your speech with minimal prompts. Instead of reams and reams of paper, refer only to a small Q card with bullet points on it that will help prepare you for your next talking points. Even if you go off piste a little, remain confident that you can steer the speech back on track. It’s about believing in yourself more than ever before!
3. Become comfortable with ‘the pause.’
You might think that having the best speech is at the top of your priority list when public speaking. Which is true to an extent. However, you need to think about your audience as well.
If you’re confident when delivering your speech and aren’t using those ‘um’ and ‘uh’ filler words when trying to remember a point, your audience will be more engaged – rather than tailing off or being left wondering what you might be trying to say.
If you’re struggling to come up with your next point, you need to familiarise yourself and get comfortable with ‘the pause.’ A well-timed break in speaking can be used instead of those unneeded or off-putting filler words. A great technique is to have a bottle or glass of water to hand. When you feel like you need to take a second, pause for a drink. Your audience will happily wait. Sometimes, it can also strengthen your point by adding some intrigue.
4. Let your personality shine through.
Public speaking is all about people-to-people communication so don’t try and be anyone other than yourself. Authenticity goes a long way in driving engagement and building relationships with your crowd. No one is looking for perfection here. They are looking for someone they can relate to so get comfortable with opening up and allowing them to see your warm and personable side when you speak.
5. Use Humour!
Humour goes a long way in speeches. An audience will always interact with a joke (that’s light hearted, well measured and tasteful), so by injecting a funny anecdote into your speech could really help grab your audience’s attention, as well as giving you an opportunity to pause, smile, and reset for the next segment.
Communication is key when delivering a speech, but nobody expects it to be perfect. Like anything it takes practice and a lot of work but by putting in the time and effort, you will deliver a better speech each time, growing confidence all the more. You may still have nerves, but some nerves are good. They tell us that we are passionate and care about what we are about to do.
Always remember that no one knows your speech inside out or word for word, so you can afford to make some mistakes. Just remind yourself of the good it will bring to your confidence as well as your career. Be proud that you’re giving it a go, and most of all, learn to enjoy it.
If you’d like advice or support with your public speaking then why not hit us up!