Slowly walking up in front of the audience with clammy hands, an anxious mind, stomach ache + shaking body – that was me freshman year of college trying to give a speech in my business communications class. I couldn’t speak without tripping over my words. My nervousness was apparent with every sentence + with every movement I made. My whole life I dreaded speaking in public, whether it was in front of a crowd of 25 or 75 people. This is very shocking for the people who know me because I am such a social butterfly + can talk to everyone [my friends joke that I could talk to a wall if I had to ; )].
During the first week of each semester I would furiously read through my syllabi to see if my classes required giving a presentation + would become nervous at the thought of having to get up in front of the class. This was until one day my sophomore year after I had become apart of the CHAARG exec team at the University of Cincinnati. I walked up in front of 150+ CHAARG members + spoke as if I was talking to my best friend at my apartment. I felt a rush of calm came over me + I for once felt comfortable speaking to a crowd. Since then I actually love speaking in public because at that moment I realized that there is absolutely no reason to be nervous or anxious. The people in the audience are human too + typically in a classroom setting are busy typing up a homework assignment they have procrastinated on their laptops, or texting their friends making plans for the evening. I had tried everything in the book to be able to speak comfortably in public + I finally found a routine that helped! If you too feel a deep fear of public speaking + are still trying the *picture everyone in their underwear* trick, upgrade your practice with the below ways to help you fall in love with public speaking!
1] GET ORGANIZED + PRACTICE
Having all of your thoughts, main points + material organized in one place it will make it easier to pinpoint exactly what you should say during your speech. Creating notes after you run through your speech in the mirror with exactly what you need to cover will help you prepare to practice with a friend. Once you have a stack of notecards prepared, present your speech to your roommate, a friend, or a parent. This will help you build confidence + knowledge about your topic.
2] THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY
Audiences embrace nervous speakers, especially if the speaker acknowledges their nerves. If you start to trip over your words say something like, *Whoops, I’m sorry. I am a little nervous,* or *I apologize I get a little tripped up in front of an audience.* The crowd will be totally be cheering for you to succeed. What’s a public speech without a little awkwardness anyway? ; )
Meditating for 5-10 minutes the morning of a speech will focus + relax your mind on accomplishing your goal of speaking confidently in public. During your speech taking deep breaths will slow your adrenaline rush + keep you from speaking too quickly. Even take a few eyes closed, deep breaths before taking to stage. This will help your body relax + your speech flow smoothly.
4] FOCUS ON YOUR TOPIC
Write your favorite mantra, or an inspirational quote at the top of your notes to remind you throughout your speech that you can do this! If you have a mindset full of passion for the topic your speaking about, it will be easier for you to remember that the speech is less about your delivery + more about your enthusiasm for the topic. If your listeners can see the passion behind your words, a small fumble over your words will be water under the bridge.
Habitually practicing these 4 tips to combat your fear of public speaking will help you quickly gain more confidence when speaking in front of an audience. Remember – everyone you are speaking to is human, so breathe + pretend you’re Queen Bey #micdrop ; )
++Delaney [@delaney_inchaarg] // UC CHAARG