Hi, Jets fans! Many people would be surprised to know that before I became a Flight Crew Cheerleader, I would participate in community events as a guest speaker. I would present close to 30-minute speeches on numerous topics without breaking a sweat.
However, that wasn't always the case. Growing up, I was very shy and had glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. Everyone experiences some degree of nervousness, whether it is the fear of being judged or making a mistake that can get in the way of a good performance.
So how can you alleviate that fear and be the best speaker you can be? Here are some tips that have helped me in overcoming my fear of public speaking that you can use before your next big presentation.
Maintaining a positive mindset: Your mindset plays a huge role in how your speech will come across to your audience. If you approach the situation in a negative way, you are compromising your mindset and setting yourself up for failure. The goal is to convey your message confidently and passionately. Don't worry about what people are thinking as you are speaking. They want you to succeed and are supporting you every step of the way.
Extemporaneous speaking: Many times I have seen speakers walk up to the podium with either a stack of note cards or three to five pages of scripted material. My philosophy when it comes to public speaking is simple: THROW AWAY THE NOTE CARDS! Instead, prepare your speech by listing what you want to talk about. I like to bullet-point my topics. That way I can see exactly what I believe is important to talk about.
From there, organize these topics to formulate your speech without actually writing a script. Once you determine how you will transition from one topic to another, work on visualizing this list instead of memorizing it. Again, if you are passionate about the topic, you do not need a script to guide you.
Presence: The way you present yourself will always make a statement before you even open your mouth. Reality is that people will not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you handled yourself. When the first two steps are in place, your presence will be natural and now your audience is engaged. Think of how you want to come across to your audience. You want your inner personal skills to shine through in your delivery.
Practice makes perfect: Find as many opportunities as you can to practice your speech. Practice in front of those you feel comfortable around and get their feedback. You can also set up a video camera and record yourself delivering your speech. Once you have it on tape, play it back so you can see yourself exactly as an audience member would see you. Pay attention to your body language. Look at your eyes: Are you scanning the room maintaining eye contact or are you catching yourself looking down at the floor? Listen to your voice pattern: Do you sound smooth and warm or choppy and uncertain? Write down what you notice and record it again, implementing any corrections.
Public speaking does not have to be scary. It is one of the best ways to express yourself. Use these tips for your next speech and you will be the talk of the town!