It’s all too familiar: early on in classes and throughout high school and college, you’re always asked to make presentations, debate and give convincing speeches in front of your peers or an audience that looks like they’re going to tear you to pieces. And year after year, the hope that it’ll get easy never becomes a reality. To sum it up for you, taking the mic or standing in front of an audience is worst than playing blackjack with an anaconda. Right?
Years after years you progress here and there, your shaky voice gets steadier and your skills progress slightly, but one thing remains the same: the anxiety that you feel seconds before you go through that curtain, door or those three steps in order to confront your audience. Getting rid of this ugly feeling is quite a challenge for most of the speakers, and anyone who claims otherwise if probably lying.
Now the real question is, how to avoid this tension you get the minute you listen to your name spoken through the announcer’s microphone? Well it is easy!
Practice makes perfect! We have all heard this expression at least twice in our lifetime yet people do not apply it. Just like becoming a doctor takes several years in medical school and building a company takes months and years of hard work, being able to talk in front of an audience needs time and practice. Choose any topic you like, work on it and mock-present in front of a mirror. Repeat again and again and don’t be stressed about sticking to the exact lines in your script: the more you improvise, the more scenarios you create and the more routes you take to go through your speech, the more leeway you’ll have when actually speaking on stage.
Mistakes are a feature of being Human! Everyone plays scenarios in their heads where they flop or lose their train of thoughts, or worse, breaks down on stage by saying the wrong things. However, making mistakes is actually human and No Man is ever immune from screwing up. Those tiny errors you make while presenting will not harm you, in fact sometimes they can be a positive edge to your presentation because they will make your talk more genuine, out of the realm of mortals, not a fabricated script that you rehearsed for days. Just don’t pay attention to the mistakes you make on stage. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on. You feel psychologically ill when you count every mistake you are on stage, and little by little it will end up tearing you to pieces. SO forget about the mistakes you might or might not do and just focus on the talk you planned for days. Think of the nights you spent all awake to work on it. This is your time to shine, and no matter what, you already put the effort, it’s just a matter of letting yourself loose and doing what you are prepared to do.
Air is our third tip for fighting stress. Nothing is better than continuous deep breaths, that’s what any public speaking coach will tell you in your first day. Whether it is doctors or trainers, breathing is their response to anxiety. The power of oxygen in pumping your brain up remains unquestionable. Smooth deep breaths will work things out pretty well. 5 deep breaths minutes before you present will give you the best carefree feeling you could ever have. And do not forget if you ever feel like you are forgetting a word during your talk just breath, take a pause and don’t freak out, it will either come along or you can improvise the same way you did in front of that mirror days ago.
Some other small details such as focusing on smiling faces to make you feel more comfortable or jumping to release the tension in your body, or even listening to calm music to feel relaxed before your presentation could help. But never forget to look your best in order to boost your self-confidence. Confidence is key to successful speakers.