Public speaking nerves? No worries!

For some of us, public speaking is terrifying. Even standing up at work to do a presentation can be nerve-wracking. So how can you overcome those nerves and deliver a memorable presentation?

I was one of these people, until I realised that my fear was an irrational, self-limiting belief that I didn’t know enough – that I wasn’t an expert and therefore wasn’t qualified to speak.

For me, there came a day when I asked myself, ‘Who am I not to share my knowledge with others?’. I realised that the things I knew could really help people and make a difference in their lives – that it wasn’t about me, it was about them.

Once I realised this, I started really enjoying standing up and telling my story, giving others advice and sharing my knowledge. It didn’t come naturally, I had to work on it and practice really hard, but now I absolutely love it and get asked to speak internationally.

To stand up and overcome your nerves about public speaking, follow these tips:

1. Practise

This may seem like an obvious tip, but a lot of people get so nervous about speaking in public that even the thought of practising is too much to handle. The more you practise and prepare at home, the easier it will be to stand in the spotlight and present.

2. Who is your audience?

When preparing what you are going to say, remember who your audience is. If they are clients and you know what will make them pay attention, or what will make them smile, remember to incorporate this into your presentation. Also think about what your presentation is about and what you want the audience to take away with them. Emphasise these points and make sure you create a connection between yourself and the audience.

3. Search for lighthouses

There will be people in the audience who will be engaging in what you are saying, nodding their heads and smiling at your jokes. Look to them as your ‘lighthouses’, as they will help you through the rest of your presentation.

4. Breathe

Forgetting to breathe is very common in public speaking as nerves creep up and your speech gets faster so you can just get it over and done with. It is so important to take notice of your breathing. You will find that it will make you more relaxed, and will slow down your speech.

5. Focus on delivery

Try to overcome your nerves, especially if you get shaky hands and tend to dance around on the spot like you have ants in your pants. Try to speak clearly, stand tall and maintain good eye contact.

After stepping into the spotlight and speaking a few times, you will start to feel more confident, new opportunities will arise, and you will have conquered that self-limiting belief holding you back from future success.

Catriona Pollard is an author and the director of public relations agency CP Communications.

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