It is normal to experience anxiety before giving a speech. It takes practice to present a good speech with confidence. Remember that even the best public speakers had to start somewhere and at one time, they were just as nervous as you are. Here are some tips that will help you control your anxiety and deliver a great speech. Learning how to be confident is an ongoing endeavor.
1. Prepare yourself thoroughly. Knowing your material is one of the most powerful ways to increase your confidence and calm your nerves before giving a speech. Research your subject matter well and then write it out. Once you have written it, practice speaking it aloud to a small audience. As you read it aloud, check it for proper flow and a normal conversational tone. As you make changes to the speech, write them down. This will help you commit the material to memory.
2. Engage in rigorous exercise on the morning of the speech. This little known tip can make a big difference. Exercise releases powerful endorphins that will help you feel strong and relaxed. Exerting yourself physically will also help you burn off some of that excess mental energy and reduce your anxiety.
3. Begin your speech by briefly greeting your audience. Then place your notes in front where you can easily refer to them and begin your introduction. Resist the temptation to read directly from your notes. As you speak to the crowd, remember to maintain eye contact with only brief references to your notes. If direct eye contact makes you nervous, you can focus on the tops of people’s heads and no one will be the wiser.
4. Stand up straight and tall. Your posture will say a lot about your level of confidence. Hold your head high and speak clearly to the audience. Many inexperienced speakers have a tendency to look down at their notes while they speak and lean on or crouch behind the podium. Resist the urge to do these things because they will make you appear timid or afraid. The audience will notice.
5. Do not focus too much attention on yourself. Focus on your audience. Paying too much attention to yourself and your performance will increase your anxiety. The audience is on your side. Understand that they want you to succeed rather than fail. Remember also that the audience is not special. They are people just like you. If they stood in your shoes, they would experience anxiety just as you do. Your audience wants to hear what you have to say so be direct and to-the-point.
6. Be positive, never negative. Continue through your material knowing that you will do well. Smile as you speak. The process can be enjoyable. You will notice that as you progress through your presentation, your anxiety will begin to slip away. When you have finished, you can sigh a great big sigh of relief. Know that each successive speech will be easier than the last. Practice these techniques and soon you will be delivering powerful speeches just like a professional public speaker.
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