Speaking in front of a group is often quoted as being people’s number 1 fear. Whether this is true or not is a matter of opinion, but for many people about to give their first presentation, it will almost certainly be at the front of their mind and it will feel very real.
Before looking at how to overcome this fear, remember that it is an irrational fear. Other fears such as fear of snakes, fear of heights and fear of water are rational fears, as the consequences of these fears could be fatal. No one ever died from giving a presentation. The fear of speaking in front of a group is actually a fear of failure. No one wants to stand in front of a group and be unable to speak or to speak really badly.
To overcome a fear of failure we need to build confidence – and the way to do this is through preparation, practice and persistence.
Make sure you know your material intimately.
- You don’t have to know your presentation ‘word for word’.
- Knowing the key points and the order they come in will carry you through a presentation – as long as you are familiar with your subject matter.
- Make sure you know your opening paragraph by heart – this is the hook that will get people listening to you and allow you to start building rapport with your audience.
Once you see your audience is paying attention to you the nerves will disappear and you will settle down for the rest of the presentation.
Once you have completed your research and created your presentation you need to practice. Don’t worry if you falter over some parts at first just keep practising and it will come.
- Memorise your opening and closing paragraphs – – so you are word perfect.
- Practice the ending first. Doing this will embed it in your subconscious and you will find it much easier to rehearse the rest of the speech if your subconscious is comfortable with your goal. The ending is the message that the audience will take away with them so it needs to be the best it can be.
The chances are high that your presentation will go well. Whether it does or it doesn’t, don’t give up. It takes 10 years or 1,000 hours of practice to become an expert and you will only improve if you keep on trying. Thomas Edison had almost 3,000 attempts at the light bulb before he finally succeeded
Before your speech make sure you warm up. Do some deep breathing and stretching to get your body into the right state and your mind will follow.
After the speech
After your speech congratulate yourself on everything that went well and ignore the bits that didn’t work. You can sort those out later.