Even for the most experienced people out there, public speaking can be a daunting experience at the best of times. Having to get up in front of a room of people to do a speech or presentation is enough to make anyone nervous, particularly if it is something you are not used to doing.
Even the most accomplished after dinner speakers out there can suffer from stage fright so here at the Champions Speakers agency we’ve compiled our top five tips for how to cope with nerves when public speaking.
Practice Makes Perfect
This may seem obvious, but in fact is the most effective way to keep calm. If you don’t practice before going out on stage then you are bound to leave yourself short. Of course, a more natural sounding presentation is always good but you should still be aware of what direction it is going in.
You are most likely to feel nervous at the very start of the performance so if you are short of time then make sure this is the section you go over the most. The chances are that once you have cracked the opening then you will ease yourself into the rest of the presentation.
Find a quiet place where you are able to practice in peace. These things come differently to different people so don’t be disheartened if it takes a while to get a hang of things. The most important thing is that you get a feel of how you want the presentation to go so that when the time comes you are feeling well relaxed and rehearsed.
Incorporate Some Comedy
This might not be suitable for everyone but the best after dinner speakers out there are the ones who are able to have a laugh with their audiences. Not everyone may feel comfortable with incorporating some jokes into their public speaking routine but if you feel confident enough it is a great way to build a rapport with the audience and calm those early nerves.
Perhaps more important than this is to know when to laugh at yourself. Mistakes happen and so if something does go wrong, or you stumble over your words during a presentation the best thing to do is to make it into a joke. Looking embarrassed is likely to draw more attention to your error and could cause you to make more. Comedy is also something that can help relax you before the presentation. Watching a comedy programme or listening to a funny podcast can relax you and put you in the right frame of mind.
Another way to keep yourself calm and stay in the zone is to shut yourself away 20-30 minutes prior to the talk. There are plenty of tutorial videos online so you can find one that works for you. By doing this it can help free your mind of any fears or anxieties you may be feeling.
While doing this you can even incorporate visualisation if you feel like it can help. This is where you picture in your mind how you want the presentation to go and how you picture the audience reacting to the speech. Picture the location of the presentation and this has the potential to make it a reality.
This technique has been effective in other aspects of life to with 18-time Major winning golfer Jack Nicklaus using it during some of the biggest games of his career. However, be sure to only visualise the positive outcomes otherwise it could have the opposite effect.
Control Your Breathing
If you are feeling particularly nervy before starting your public speaking engagement then your heart rate is likely to be increased. Therefore, controlling your breathing is extremely important. Standing up with legs shoulder width apart and hand on your stomach, slowly exhale for 30-40 seconds to slow down your heart rate before going on stage.
This focuses on the diaphragm and should also help you to keep your voice steady and clear during the presentation.
Get To Know The Venue
Every venue is different. Different acoustics, different layout whatever it maybe it pays to get to know the exact setup of where you will be doing your presentation. To make sure there are no off-putting surprises on the day of the presentation try to aim to arrive a few hours before you are set to get underway.
This way you can familiarise yourself with the venue and get a good look at the space you’ll be performing in. If you have enough time another good thing to do is to is to get practising on the stage where you are going to be speaking. Getting a good grasp of the size and how it looks should mean you are completely prepared for the night ahead. If you are unable to get to the venue in plenty of time then you should at least ask for a photo or visit their website so you can still visualise where you are going to be speaking.
There is no doubting that public speaking can be a scary experience but there is no reason it shouldn’t be enjoyable to. The chances are if you are engaging in public speaking then you are already a highly regarded individual in your area. So, just remember to believe in yourself and by using these five tips to handle your nerves your presentation is sure to be a success.
Here at the Champions Speakers agency, we know all about conference speaking. If you would like to book an after dinner speaker for your corporate event, function or seminar, you can contact us by filling in our online contact form or by calling one of our booking agents directly on 0207 1010 553.