If giving speeches in class or in front of a crowd makes you weak in the knees, you’re not alone. Psychologists believe glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) is the most common fear in our society, affecting as much as 75 percent of the population. But you can overcome speech anxiety. Check out these tips for overcoming stage fright
1. Find an interesting topic
When deciding on a speech topic, think about things that inspire you or things that are important to you in life. It’s easier to show excitement when you speak if it’s a subject area you really care about.
2. Focus on your main points
Your audience doesn’t expect or want you to recite a whole encyclopedia entry about your topic. Giving too many details not only bores your listeners, but it also makes your job harder. Pick two or three main points, and focus on them. If you don’t memorize your speech, use note cards. But never read a speech word for word.
3. Practice your speech often
The practice is essential to becoming a winning speaker, the same as it is for becoming a great free-throw shooter. The behind-the-scenes effort you put in will determine how well you do in the actual event.
4. Seek input from others
Ask trusted friends or adults who care about helping you grow to listen to your speech and give you their opinion. Let them coach you, and keep an open mind to their suggestions
5. Record yourself
“Most people are uncomfortable hearing their own voice, but it really is a great way to improve. It’s also a great way to break bad habits, like the ‘umms’ and ‘you know’,… that are very common.
6. Prepare mentally
For some people, that means listening to a favorite song to get their energy pumping, For others, it may mean a few minutes of complete silence to collect and focus their thoughts. Find out what works for you and get in your proper mental zone.
7. Breathe deeply and smile
When you get in front of the audience, don’t jump right in. Most beginning speakers talk too quickly, so slow down and enjoy the moment. Take a deep breath, pause for a second, smile and away you go.
8. Stay calm through mistakes
Everyone has made a mistake while delivering a speech at some point. A lost place, forgotten fact, mispronounced word … it can easily happen. Stay calm and work through it. Although they can be embarrassing, mistakes help you do better next time.
9. Never give up
No matter how badly you do on your first speech, never quit. Pick yourself up, determine what went wrong, and try to improve. Every great speaker began as a novice, but they never quit. That’s what makes them great today.