Public speaking is considered the greatest fear a person can have, even greater than the fear of death. Yet we all have unique voices, stories and knowledge to share with others and inspire.
Glossophobia, fear of speaking in public, is one of the most common phobias. As many as 75% people have glossophobia. Statistically, far more of us claim that we would prefer death to giving a speech. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld joked that at a funeral, most people would rather be lying in the casket than delivering the eulogy.
I often get asked how best to reduce the fear of speaking and how to present with confidence. I have put together 19 tips to reduce stage fright and build presence when speaking in public.
IN THE LEAD UP
- Prepare and practice your material in advance. Stand up and present your speech to people you trust (or to a mirror). Feel from your heart, hear your voice, build energy and become aware of your body language.
- Film yourself – it’s a great way to observe your body language, fluency of words and the projection of your voice
- Tell a personal story from your heart early in your speech to connect to your audience. Use stories throughout your speech as much as possible to illustrate key points and to be engaging and memorable.
- Speaking off by heart and from the heart is the best way to connect with your audience, so rehearse your speech as much as possible and let go of your notes.
- Practice ways to calm and relax your mind, body and spirit including deep breathing, stretching and relaxation exercises, yoga, singing, mindfulness and meditation.
- Eat well in the lead up to your presentation avoiding sugar, caffeine, red meat and alcohol. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas. Exercise and keep improving your posture.
- Visualize your success. Keep focussing on your strengths and capabilities to handle challenging situations. Give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes.
AT THE EVENT
- Gently hum or hiss to steady your voice and regulate your breath.
- Drink plenty of warm water or herbal tea. Get dressed and ready to present early.
- Check out the room/venue. If possible have a short sound check on stage getting used to microphones, checking your slides and videos, testing the clicker etc. Ensure any technical crew assist you in your short rehearsal so they understand your key cues and can support your presentation.
- Think of who’s in the room. Review the guest list. If possible go in and observe the people in the room and sense the atmosphere. Then, if necessary, adjust any aspects of your presentation to really connect with the audience.
- Wherever possible, make connections with your audience. Smile, greet people and think of them as your friends rather than enemies. They want you to inspire them!
- Move from fear to love. Stop scaring yourself with thoughts about what might go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring. Exhale and say to yourself: “Just worrying”. On the next inhalation re-focus your attention on the task at hand and visualise yourself performing brilliantly and sharing love.
- Shift the focus from yourself and your fear to your true purpose. Remember why you are here: to contribute something of value to your audience. You are giving and sharing your special gifts with the audience.
- Keep breathing and stay in the present moment. Refuse to allow thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.
- Connect and interact with your audience. Remember that your presentation is for their benefit. Ask questions, use interactive tools etc. This will relax you and the audience and create open lines of communication rather than an imaginary fourth wall.
- Stand or sit in a self-assured, confident posture. Remain warm and open, smile from your heart and make eye contact with your audience.
- Project your unique voice because you want to be heard. Your tone, volume and pace are huge factors in creating a brilliant speech. Be natural, be yourself. Have fun!
- Finally stick around after your speech, be accessible, answer questions. It’s a great opportunity to make contacts and can lead to future speaking gigs and other professional work.
So next time you get asked to speak, seize the opportunity. If you practice the above tips you will be amazed at what you can achieve and how much you will enjoy the experience.
Tania de Jong AM is a leading Australian soprano, inspirational speaker, social entrepreneur, spiritual journey woman and creative innovation catalyst. She foundedCreative Universe, Creativity Australia, Music Theatre Australia, Pot-Pourri and The Song Room and works with diverse communities through the ‘With One Voice’ choir social inclusion programs. Tania sings around the world as a soloist and with her group Pot-Pourri releasing 7 CDs. She is Founder and Executive Producer ofCreative Innovation Global. Tania’s TED Talk How Singing Together Changes The Brain has sparked international interest. Tania has just released her solo CDHeaven on Earth.
Tania helps organisations build capabilities in creative thinking and leadership, develop a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, understand and manage disruption, foster diversity and community and unleash potential of individuals and teams.
Tania speaks and performs around the world and presents leadership and innovation workshops inspiring diverse audiences of 10 to 10,000 people ranging from corporate executive teams, boards and entire organisations to universities, hospitals, schools, business and entrepreneurship forums and at major national and international conferences and public events.
For more detailed information on Tania’s presentation topics or to book her for your next conference or special event please contact us at:firstname.lastname@example.org // +61 (0)3 8679 6000 // www.taniadejong.com //@Taniadejong