Nervousness and being frightened with public speaking is a common factor for all who give speeches. There are 10 rules and tips that will help you gain confidence and control over any anxieties you have and these rules will help you improve upon any speech.
The best and first rule to follow is to know your material. Pick topics that interest you and do extra research on your favorite topic to be fully informed, but you don’t need to use all the information on the subject. Bring up personal stories and make the topic seem conversational, using humor is always acceptable and helps with remembering the material.
Second rule, practice and rehearse your material out loud, and if you can, use a microphone, or something that represents a microphone. When practicing, remember where pauses worked best and keep them there, or revise as needed. Practicing also helps with how much breath is needed for a segment of your material. Time yourself, because you don’t want to go over the allotted time.
Third rule, it’s not a bad idea to get to know your audience in both senses, personally and in general. As members arrive, go up to them and introduce yourself and ask them a question that will let you know a little bit more about them, this way, when you look out, you’ll be able to connect better and feel you’re among friends instead of a group of strangers. For the general aspect, understand the mind-set of the guests you’ll be addressing, for example, you don’t want to talk about carniverous actions if most of the audience is vegetarian.
Fourth rule, get the feel of the room you’ll be speaking in. Arrive a bit early and walk around the area and if the microphone is set-up, practice using it and any visual aids you might be using during your speech or lecture.
Fifth rule, you need to be relaxed when you first begin to speak, one way to accomplish this is to address the audience, this will calm your nerves and give you a small amount of time. Pause after addressing the audience, smile and count to three before you start your speech. For some reason, this approach has always worked. This is also something you should put into your practice time.
Sixth rule, while practicing, visualize yourself actually giving the speech. See yourself speaking with confidence and see yourself enjoying the subject you are speaking about. See the audience enjoying your speech as well, see them laughing at the appropriate moments and applauding at the end.
Seventh rule, understand that your audience wants you to succeed, they aren’t there to humiliate you, they are there because they really want to hear what you have to say. But, they also want to be informed, stimulated, intrigued and entertained, so keep this in mind when you are organizing your material.
Eighth rule, you don’t need to apologize for being nervous, basically because they won’t really know that you are unless you tell them.
Ninth rule, if you focus on the message and not about how nervous you are, then you’ve won the battle. Your own anxieties will be pushed to the background and your material will shine forth and foremost, which is what your want your audience to be focused on, your material and not you.
Finally, the tenth rule, you need to get stage time, gain experience. The only sure way to hone in on the craft of public speaking is to keep doing it. There are many organization geared just for public speaking. If you want to get over your fear of public speaking, it’s best to participate in the organizations. They usually will have meetings in the morning hours before work or in the evenings, after work, so there’s no excuse.
For more information on how to become a better public speaker, take a look at our free PDF on Dale Carnegie’s Secrets to Effective Public Speaking, or visit the course page for our presentation skills training program.