When people are asked to rank the things they are most afraid of, public speaking is usually pretty close to the top of the list.
Fortunately, this fear can be tamed. By taking proactive steps, you can manage your stage fright and make sure that even if your knees are shaking behind the podium, you seem collected and professional to the people watching.
To that end, here are four tips that can help you handle your fear of public speaking.
It’s an unfortunate irony that the more anxious you are about something, the more likely you are to put off thinking about it. This is not something you can afford to do when you’re preparing for a big presentation.
The thing about stage fright is that it’s pretty difficult to overcome entirely: instead, you should focus on managing it. And the best way to manage it is through becoming so familiar with your presentation materials that talking about them becomes second nature.
Just like an athlete or musician drills long and hard to build up muscle memory so they don’t have to think about what they’re doing, practicing your speech or presentation over and over again will help ensure that when you step on to the stage, your training takes over.
2. Focus on the Message
Stage fright is a natural response to having to speak in front of a large group of people. Who isn’t afraid of looking foolish in front of their peers?
This means that stage fright is really a fear about how you will be perceived by others. One of the best ways to manage it is by shifting your thinking away from yourself and toward the needs of your audience. What have they come to learn? What information do you need to communicate? How can you help them feel the same passion for your topic that you do?
Seeing yourself as someone providing a valuable service — and trying to make sure your audience gets the most out of your presentation — can help you stop worrying about being so you can focus on doing.
3. Get Professional Help
If public speaking is scary, then having to give a professional presentation in a high stakes business context can be downright terrifying.
The truth is, a lot of great business presentations aren’t the product of a single person’s genius ideas, but are created through collaboration with a presentation designer or presentation design agency who can help with everything from custom graphics to outlining, drafting, and coordination with a PowerPoint specialist.
Getting professional input and guidance won’t just make your presentation better, it will also bolster your confidence when it comes time to walk on stage.
4. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
On the day of the presentation, you want to make sure you feel as lucid and calm as possible. Caffeine won’t help with this, so limit your intake of tea, coffee, and chocolate in the hours before the speech.
It’s okay to have your usual morning cup of joe, but slamming back espresso shots as the day goes on will just make you more anxious and jittery.
While stage fright might not be something you can conquer completely, following these tips can help you manage your anxiety so you can give the best presentation possible.