Fear of Public Speaking: Tips for Introverts
Attention introverts, you can manage your fear of public speaking it just takes knowing (and practicing) a few handy tips and techniques. Truth be told the speakers you most admire likely suffer nerves, the difference is they know how to overcome them.
So, what can you do to overcome your fear of public speaking? Adoni Media’s Managing Director, Leisa Goddard, has been presenting on television and at gala events and functions for decades. Here are some of the top tips she shares when training senior executives and spokespeople ahead of major presentations and keynote speeches.
Say to yes to speaking opportunities
Start saying “yes” to guest speaking opportunities because the more public speaking you do the faster you build your confidence. Now, there is no doubt that before the big event you will most likely run through every possible scenario to try and avoid the stage but deliberately stepping out of your comfort zone is the first step to overcoming your fear. The added bonus is raising your profile and if you are a business owner you’re building brand awareness for your company.
The best speakers are not necessarily hilarious, but they are genuine. Take time before you walk in front of your audience to ground yourself and do some deep breathing. Remember you have been invited to speak because they want to hear from you.
Speak to your audience
Understand who is sitting, or standing, in front of you and talk to them using language that connects with them. If you are an introvert, then you’re likely a very good listener so think about what would make you stop and want to listen.
In preparing keynote addresses and speeches there is an enormous amount of thought and time dedicated to key messaging. You have to speak in a way that will engage with your particular audience and wherever possible have antidotes or stories they can relate to.
Trembling knees or feeling like your heart is beating so loud that the entire room will hear it through the microphone can be quite normal. If your body is showing signs of nerves, then try to breathe deeply into your belly rather than stiffen your body to help relax yourself.
Take a moment when you are first handed the microphone or step up to the podium to look around the room. Importantly, (as long as it isn’t a sombre occasion) smile! The next thing you should do is find a friendly face in the audience, or if you don’t know anyone then imagine you are having a conversation with your partner or someone who makes you feel relaxed. In media training the moment we give that tip you immediately see the speaker’s face soften.
Confident speakers won’t read word for word from a prepared script but rather know what they want to say and have bullet points to help keep them on track. For beginners it is a terrifying thought but for the audience it is a far more organic and engaging presentation. If you must have notes, then make sure you rehearse and be very conscious of maintaining eye contact.
What you wear
The audience want to listen to you so be mindful of what you wear and if you are a woman avoid jewellery that could be noisy and distract from what you are saying. It is also important, especially if you don’t have a podium, to be mindful of how you are holding your notes.
Watch it back
Few people like to listen to themselves or watch themselves back, but it is one of the most effective tools for improving your presentation skills. Ask a friend or colleague in the audience to record your speech and make the time to review the good and the bad about your presentation. Remember, it really is practice makes perfect.