Presentation Skills – Even More Tips For Overcoming A Fear Of Public Speaking

Are you frightened of speaking in public? You’re not alone. Being nervous isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you harness it, you can have access to a pool of energy to help you perform at your best. The problem arises when you are so nervous that it inhibits your ability to function and remember what you were going to say.

In this article we look at tips for overcoming your fear of public speaking being (1) smile (2) learn from your mistakes and (3) use a visual memory technique.

Tip 1: Smile

Pull your shoulders back, breathe deeply, hold your chin up and paste a huge smile on your face. Try it now. It is impossible to feel either down or nervous while you are doing this. Hold that pose when you walk up to the podium to begin your presentation and you will feel much better. You will find that the bigger and the sillier the grin that you paste on your face, the more difficult it is to feel any negative emotion.

One of the secrets presenters learn early on is that the audience ends up in exactly the same emotional state as the presenter. So if you look like you are happy and having a good time, that is how the audience will feel too.

Tip 2: There Is No Such Thing As Failure, Just Feedback

Every presenter has made mistakes. The key is to learn from them and not repeat them in future presentations. I have:

  • Been told I speak too fast – so I slowed down the speed of my delivery.
  • Told a joke that has fallen flat. It was a joke about lawyers to an audience of lawyers – so I no longer tell jokes about a profession to the profession I am talking to.
  • Been disrespectful about someone and not realised they were in the audience – so I don’t do that anymore.
  • Been flippant and had my comment taken seriously – so I don’t do that anymore.

From each of these mistakes, I have learned and changed the way I do things to ultimately become the presenter that I am today. Some of these mistakes are things that I look back on and I feel appalled that I made them, but in my inexperience I knew no better. The whole aim of gaining experience is to make mistakes and improve.

It is unrealistic to think you can start presenting and not make mistakes. Even today after 20 years of presenting I still sometimes make a mistake. The difference now is that I can recover from them more quickly than I used to.

Tip 3: Use A Visual Memory Technique

There are visual memory techniques you can use to remember presentations. I have used them myself for presentations running as long as 3 days. When you forget where you are up to, you quickly close your eyes (to the audience it looks like a long blink), look at your visual memory stack and remember where you are up to. There are people who will teach you how to do these.

In effect it is as simple as making up a story book picture in your head about your presentation and then remembering where in the story you are up to.

I have successfully used each of these tips to help me while giving presentations. I trust they will help you too.