Many of us struggle with the signs of nervousness while standing on the stage—sweatiness, stammer, sickness… Some can’t even pronounce a word!
All these symptoms are super uncomfortable and, what is more significant, can ruin your presentation at work or university.
From this detailed guide, you’ll learn what public speaking tips help to overcome speech anxiety.
Mind that you need to master every category to eliminate the fear of public speaking. And if you try hard and practice a lot, you’ll soon speak without any anxiety symptoms!
Also, we prepared a wonderful bonus for you, you’ll find it at the end of the article.
The fear of public speaking is often connected with improvisation. If you’re worried about your rhetoric skills, acceptance by the audience, or your tone, improvisation can be impossible, and this way, you can even ruin your presentation.
To avoid this depressive possibility, we have a list of actions to take before going on stage.
The best point:
Many steps should be done at home!
1. Pick the subject you’re passionate about
To make a wow-effect, you should follow one simple rule—talk only on those topics that are significant to you.
Speaking anxiety is often weak when you have the goal to stand on the stage and provide your arguments. Just concentrate on your subject and put your all your energy into the presentation.
The best topics are those that:
- Cover the field of knowledge you’re experienced in
- Affect many people and social classes
- Include new information—studies, research, and proofs
2. Research your facts
A good orator must befriend the information they present.
If you’re not sure in the facts you include in the speech, it makes you nervous when you’re giving this knowledge to other people.
Here, you’ll find the list of safe and reliable search engines for your research. A quick check by these trusted sources helps to get over the fear of public speaking:
- Google Scholar
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- Microsoft Academic
3. Learn how to make great presentations
Presentations are significant for every public speech. You see them at university, office, and even in online lectures.
But here’s the paradox:
The majority of people don’t know how to use them right.
Yes. Mastering visual skills when you’re afraid to speak doesn’t seem logical. But if you have an excellent presentation, then you have the map to lead you through all the worries.
Here’s an expert tip:
Don’t use PowerPoint if you don’t like to.
Firstly, most of them are user-friendly. That means, it’s extremely comfortable to change images and fonts, customize sizes, input text, save and download the presentation, and so on.
Secondly, they contain great databases of helpful elements, including photos, vector images, patterns, charts, and frames.
And, at last, they’re perfect not only for presentation, but also infographics, posters, business cards, flyers, and more.
4. Make cue cards
Often lose the idea or stammer when standing in front of the audience?
Here’s one tip to lead you to success:
Instead of notes, prepare brief and vivid cue cards. They should include only one idea per card written in a large bold font.
It’s better to color-code your cards to classify them by type or importance. For example, if you’re going to give a quote, write it down and give it a colorful label to know it’s a citation. Make the same for statistics, arguments, literature for further reading, and even your jokes and personal stories.
Make sure to write only on one side, number cards’ order, and leave a lot of negative space.
5. Practice makes perfect
Many people who struggle to improve public speaking skills, forget about this rule, that may be the most significant one:
The revision of your speech.
When you write a speech on your own, you may know everything about it. But it doesn’t mean, you know the text by heart.
The best part:
You don’t need to.
But what’s essential—you should practice the event you’re going to speak on several times. Give your speech at home to your friends, relatives, or cat. Just make sure, you practice a lot to learn every plot twist and argument.
6. Guess possible questions
Whether you give an informative, scandalous, or motivational speech, the audience can strike you with questions.
And that’s often the primary reason why people are afraid of public speaking.
How not to be nervous?
Take 15 minutes to list the possible questions your audience can ask. Classify them into groups and give short but satisfying answers.
Moreover, the questions’ part is a great opportunity to show your preparedness—include the most possible questions into your presentation to show the slides if they’re necessary instead of forcing yourself to speak.
When you have a friend by your side, you feel more confident, and the signs of anxiety can leave forever.
But how to include your friend into the work only one has to get done?
Firstly, you can ask them to change slides. This way, you won’t be worrying about this additional task of providing visuals. Give your friends an order of images or make signs to switch one to another.
Secondly, if you’re still nervous about the point #6 (questions from the audience), make your friend ask a prepared question to minimize the communication with strangers. Notice, that this trick is okay for students, but possibly wouldn’t work at the office.
Finally, you may just ask friends to present in the auditory. This way, you’ll pretend like speaking to them and not to the others. Having a friend in the crowd is a helpful benefit to beat your anxiety.
8. Fashion choice
The art of choosing right clothes is the last thing you worry about during public speaking.
But, therefore, this is a part you must deal with.
And our advice is…
Get the most casual look you can.
If there’s no dress-code on the event, wear the most comfortable things you’re used to. Jeans + T-shirt are the best.
- Wear layers to adapt to the temperature in the building.
- Don’t put too tight or small clothes. When you’re nervous, these feelings can become even worse.
- Make sure you’re satisfied with your look. If you feel uncomfortable wearing a dress, don’t make yourself to. Just put on a classic suit.
- Check, if your clothes allow keeping a microphone on them.
This part includes tips on how to trick your brain and stop being scared.
You’ll find a collection of proved techniques to give an effective speech without trembling knees and weak voice.
Starting with the boost of confidence and belief in yourself, you can enter the club of good orators.
9. Don’t put your fear on the pedestal
It’s actually not a speaking lesson.
This is the basics everyone should know.
When you leave your comfort zone, you feel afraid, and that’s okay. But don’t focus on your anxiety and don’t let it consume you.
Imagine, this is a risky adventure that you take to become a better speaker. Use the adrenaline you get a positive energy boost. Put it into interesting your audience and racking mind and memory.
10. Come earlier to get used to being on stage
Anxiety symptoms often appear in unusual places. If you repeat certain actions over and over again, dealing with them in the front of the crowd becomes much easier.
In case of public speaking, coming earlier and practicing your presentation may reduce nervousness and even help to avoid a panic attack.
Show your mind that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Get used to the stage, light, tools, noises outside the window, the volume of microphone’s sound. Eliminate all the small issues that may cause you troubles.
You can even make a repetition of your speech. (Just make sure not to spoil the end if someone overhears it!)
11. Choose a person in a crowd
If the alliance of mindfulness and confidence doesn’t help you, paying attention to every person in the audience can make your anxiety even worse.
What measures to take, then?
Concentrate on one person when giving your speech. It’s not great advice for your presentation, because people love to get attention from the orator, but it’s a nice method to soothe your mind and calm down.
According to this life hack, you should find the person you trust in the audience like your teacher, friend, or mom, and give the whole speech to them instead of looking at strangers’ faces.
Don’t turn this trick into your habit. As soon as you can handle your anxiety, you should train eye contact during the presentation.
12. Breath in, breath out
During anxiety, you may experience troubles with breathing. In the majority of cases, it happens due to consuming too much air and over-breathing.
To help yourself handle this unpleasant symptom, learn basic breathing techniques.
For example, try this one:
- Inhale, count to 5.
- Hold your breath, count to 7.
- Exhale, count to 9.
13. Dim the lights
Handling the fear of public speaking can be easier if you can’t see the faces in the crowd clearly. Try to turn off the light and cover windows.
It will help if you’re one of those people who’re nervous when too many people are looking at them.
The darker the place, the more confident you get. Shadow room will aid you to feel calm and not worry about the audience’s response.
14. Don’t compare yourself to professionals
Have you ever watched TED performances?
I bet you did. And if not, you should do it, because every speech given on TED is unique and super-professional.
In these performances, everything is perfect: topics, speaker’s skills, visuals, timing, and speech itself.
And here’s the point:
Try to be like these orators, but don’t criticize yourself too much.
Demanding too much from yourself is one of the public speaking anxiety causes. Know your limits and don’t push too hard. Everyone needs tons of experience to become a specialist.
15. Get experience
It seems pretty obvious, but still, not everyone follows this tip:
Get your own experience through work and practice.
As soon as you make several public presentations, you’ll learn how to give a confident and informative speech without any nervousness signs.
If you know you’d have to give a speech on a significant event, you have to plan some small speeches as a preparation. For example, sign up for public speaking classes for college students or make a presentation on less important events to train your skills.
III. Social Skills
To know how to communicate with your audience, you must apply specific social skills.
There’s a great chance that your anxiety is connected with the lack of communication skills that include verbal and non-verbal information, rhetoric strategies, empathy, and more.
Here are some tips for introverts and extroverts, leaders and team players, beginners and amateurs, native and ESL students.
16. Who is your audience?
Before giving a speech to your audience, you must know who are they, what do they like and dislike, what you have in common, and what can appeal to their feelings.
If you have an opportunity to interview a person who will attend your speech, use it without hesitation. Otherwise, make research to know more about their age, social class, lifestyle, education, working fields, and interests.
The more you know about them, the more confident you feel. Find proofs that your audience consists of people like you, and they are not a reason to be afraid.
17. Find friends among your audience
Remember the quick tip about coming earlier?
One reason why to make this:
You can meet first people who come and make friends with them. Introduce yourself, start small talk, ask them questions about the event, and so on.
It’s easier to make a presentation in front of your friends not a group of strangers.
18. Don’t focus on the audience when you speak
Once you’ve analyzed your audience and started to talk—focus on your material. The information you present should be the #1 priority.
Observe what you speak and how you do it, not the reaction you get from the public.
It may be difficult at the beginning, but the more you think about the importance of your topic and conclusions people should make after your speech, the freer you feel to stand on the stage and follow your goal.
Until you learn some hypnosis tactics, don’t try to guess what your audience thinks.
To reduce your public speaking anxiety, let somebody else tell you how people reacted when you finish the speech. Until then, you have plenty other things to do.
19. Speak about your feelings, not about your fears
There’s one thing every beginning speaker should understand:
In the majority of cases, your fear is real for nobody else but you. That’s why you shouldn’t tell them that you’re afraid. The only thing you will gain with this step is drawing attention to your anxiety symptoms.
Instead, tell them about your feelings—how excited you are to give them a speech, how is significant your topic to you, and how is important the experience you gain.
20. Watch your gestures
When you’re nervous, your gestures may betray you and tell everyone what you really feel. These signs of insecurity and stress include the following:
- Lips biting
- Hands rubbing
- Touching your face and hair
- Yawning a lot
- Crossing your arms
How to relieve anxiety?
Make yourself use non-verbal signs of confidence to trick your mind and become calmer. For example, statistics show that a couple of minute in a posture when you lean back with hands behind your head raises the level of testosterone. And high testosterone leads to a boost of confidence that you need when giving a significant speech.
21. Use humor to get more comfortable
Prepare a couple of jokes or funny stories to include in your speech. Humor will help you to feel like the audience is your friend and it supports you.
It also is a nice chance to release stress and think positively.
22. Show and draw
You may feel uncomfortable because everyone is looking at you.
Try to focus the audience’s attention on something else. For example, draw a scheme or show a slide. Also, there’s an excellent tactic to bring handouts with you.
IV. Rhetoric Skills
Do you experience a shaky voice, dry mouth or stuttering?
Then, you may want to improve your rhetoric skills. Start with these quick tips to fix your flaws and use your strong sides.
23. Follow the layout
This is the number one reason why every professional speech sounds so logical and constructive.
Build a strong layout with an impressive intro, newly researched facts as arguments, and the conclusion to make everyone think on the topic.
Then, follow this outline until the end.
24. Enhance pronunciation
Pronunciation is an important skill everyone needs to improve public speaking. Make sure your voice isn’t shaking, and you pronounce every word clearly.
Try not to mumble and open your mouth wide when you speak. Control the tone and timbre of the voice.
Download a tongue twisters list to warm up before the speech.
25. Watch your tone
Intonation is significant when you make a performance.
Vary the tone depending on emotions and situation—ask questions, make ironical jokes, provoke the audience with a rapid and serious speech, and so on.
Make a record of your speech to ensure you don’t sound robotic.
26. Change the speed
The adrenaline and nerves can make your speech speed too fast for comprehending or, otherwise, too slow with big pauses.
Every speed has its own meaning. Speak slowly during the most powerful parts of the speech and fasten up to talk about the things that make you angry.
27. Make pauses
Speaking slowly isn’t enough. You should also know where to stop.
Leave enough time for the audience to take your point, look at the screen, or react emotionally.
Also, you should make pauses to emphasize certain parts of the script.
These were tips on how to speak in public without getting a panic attack. We hope many of them will be useful!
And now it’s the time for the bonus we promised to attach:
Bonus: The Pick of Public Speaking Courses
- Dynamic Public Speaking by Coursera
A free specialization containing four helpful courses to become better in public speaking. It starts with the basics, explains how to present ideas and create dynamic slides, and also covers the choice of appropriate language.
16-hours videos covering 12 significant parts of public speaking including audience identification, finding the goal, getting confident, thorough preparations, resources choice, etc.
A course for those who search for professionals’ help. Chris Anderson is a TED speaker, author, and entrepreneur. He listened to hundreds of speeches on TED and shares his experience in these videos.
- Public Speaking by EdX
Another free course that takes around 20 hours to take. You’ll learn specific tools and methods to apply on the stage, how to use critical thinking during the speech, and how to control your speaking anxiety.
- Public Speaking by GoSkills
Learn how to deliver your PowerPoint presentation and your speech super-informative and memorable. Listen to expert’s tips on how to sound clear, draw attention, and choose exciting stories to tell.
That was a list of tips for public speaking anxiety, performance, and communicating. We hope this guide will help you to improve your skills and avoid panic when you’re on the stage.
Have fun and remember the most important thing: The more you try, the far you get!