We all start out being nervous speaking in front of people, but as you have no doubt noticed some people seem to have mastered the art of being more natural and speak without being nervous so the question is how did they do it?
In fact, your ability to effectively communicate in front of people (whether it is a small group of 2-3 people or a large room of 1000) is critical to you influencing others and realizing your full potential. Many great people are called upon to communicate effectively in front of people – and for that, you must find a way to speak in public without being nervous.
I am asked to speak in public at least once each week and still wrestle with nerves, though it certainly is not to the degree as it may have been in the past.
So how have can you improve your public speaking, appear to speak without being nervous and communicate well with your audiences?
PUBLIC SPEAKING LIKE A PRO
A few tips help me to control my nerves while public speaking…
The more you do it, the easier it gets. If you only speak publicly infrequently, then join toastmasters or even speak in front of family or friends, local town council, etc…The more you do it, the less anxiety. I can't stress this enough, if you stay away from public speaking for months and then jump back in, your nerves will be higher. Just like getting regular exercise is simpler than trying to run 10-miles without regular training, learning to exercise your ability to speak in public also works wonders for both your nerves and your effectiveness
2. FOCUS ON ONE PERSON
Talk to one person, even if there are 1000 – pick on main person to focus on, you can still move your eyes across the crowd at different times, but focus back on that one person I find helps. One of the first things I do when I talk in front of a group is connect quickly with one person who seems attentive and plugged in…for the remainder of the talk I focus mainly on him or her – spreading my attention across the group, but using that one person as the main focal point.
3. BE PREPARED
Know your topic and visualize your successful talk before you go on. There are two parts to this, one is knowing your audience (who they are, where they are coming from and what frustrations and desires they may have) as well as knowing your purpose, material and approach you will take with your talk. I am a big fan of using aids such as slides, props, white boards, etc…but they should really enhance your talk rather than be a direct copy of what you are going to say.
4. VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESSFUL TALK
Two things help me immensely before I speak in front of a group –
1. I repeat positive affirmations about how the talk has already ended successfully with my points being communicated clearly, my audience both educated and entertained and overall the experience was an effective and joyous one.
2. I run a "movie" in my head of the talk going well, relaxed, fun and successfully – this also helps a great deal. I will actually visualize the room, the people, the expressions on people's faces, my relaxed and spirited talk…all aspects of talking in front of people without being nervous.
You can't eliminate nervousness when talking in front of people, but you can manage it so that the experience becomes highly effective and much easier for you.