Let's face it: public speaking can be nerve wracking! Whether you are tackling a job interview with someone one on one, or presenting to a large group, sometimes our communication doesn't function they way we would like. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind next time you approach this scenario:
1) Learn your lines. Beforehand, prepare what you want to say. For presenters, you want your material memorized so you will not be fumbling for notes or have your eyes glued on your power point.
2) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Then rehearse, again and again. It is a good idea to use a recorder and play it back. Use video function on your smart phone so you can also observe your posture and gestures. What do you notice about your speech? If you are reliant on fillers such as "like", "uh" or "um" this can indicate you may have trouble recalling what you wanted to say. It's ok to have notes on hand to jog your memory if needed, but try not to rely on this. Remember it is fine to just take a breath or say "Excuse me" and take a sip of water. This will give you time to re-focus before you speak again.
3) What about using a prop? Some people feel uncomfortable standing with nothing in their hands. Having a "prop" in hand, such as a laser pointer can help you feel more at ease. (just be sure you use your prop with purpose while presenting, not fidgeting with it!)
4) Say "yes!" to using a microphone. Even if you feel confident in your ability to project, having your voice amplified is an immediate confidence booster. You are also helping out any listeners who suffer from ADHD or hearing loss, which studies show, can attend better to the amplified voice.
5) Give yourself a pep talk. Remember--YOU are the solution! If you are seeking a job, the interviewer is hoping that you are the ideal candidate they've been hoping to find. If you are speaking at a presentation, the audience is wanting to learn about the subject you are covering. Remember that your listeners are rooting for you and that they are on YOUR side. This will make you excited to speak, instead of intimidated!
6) Avoid dry mouth! It is not unusual for our mouth to dry out when we get nervous! Then it is quite hard to speak with our lips sticking to our teeth, and our tongue to the roof of our mouth. Make sure that you hydrate well before you speak, but also keep water within arm's reach to have during your speech. The more we talk, the more our mouth can dry out. So hydrate!
7) Pace yourself. If you notice you are gasping at the ends of sentences, this is a big indicator you may be talking too fast and/or breathing too shallow. Practice diaphragmatic breathing beforehand (you will feel your belly expand out with the breath, instead of the chest). Remember to continue breathing this way when you are speaking.
8) Aim for the back. If you have to deliver to a large room, imagine your favorite person in the world came to hear you speak--and they were seated in the back of the room. You want your message to reach them, not just the people in the front row.
9) Get feedback. After the presentation, be sure to have a friend or trusted colleague let you know how things went. Take notes for next time. If you feel this scenario is still a struggle, remember there are professionals that can help! Our professional speaking services can provide specialized training in every area of presenting: voice, speech, nonverbal communication and other presentation skills you need to feel confident in accomplishing all your professional goals!