What are some good tips to over come nervousness before and while public speaking?
Here are some things that I encourage. (I'm a professional trainer of professional speakers.)
1. Breathe! Learn to be comfortable breathing, and to stop thinking, breathe, and feel just being in your body. That sets emotional nervousness or ideas in the mind aside, so they don't interfere with the action of speaking.
2. Find a friendly member of your audience who is smiling, and look at him or her, smile, and speak just to that person. Everyone in that section of the audience will think you are speaking to him or to her. In a large audience - up to 200 people - you can do this by finding just three smiling people anywhere in the audience.
3. Pay attention to your audience and your ideas, and not to yourself.
4. Remember that nervousness is energy. Let it flow with the breath, and speak.
5. When practicing, move around and speak aloud. Running ideas through your head is not practice. It actually makes things worse, not better.
6. Remember that everyone out there wants to enjoy themselves and learn, which means that they want you to succeed. They're on your side!
It can be daunting. If you are comfortable and knowledgeable about your topic, your enthusiasm will help. I once heard a radio interview from a man that was passionate about traffic cones! I initially thought, what a boring topic. The man speaking knew everything about them and his excitement about them was contagious.
Sid Kemp has summed it up perfectly. With practice, you will enjoy connecting with your audience.
(1) Begin with knowing (significantly) what you are talking about.
(2) Be confident that you have something worthwhile to share/transfer.
(3) If indeed it is worthwhile to share and will help others; once you have convinced yourself of this; I believe your speech will flow most eloquently.
(4) Make it interactive; be not afraid to get your crowd interacting with your presentation as it is being presented.
(5) Smile, use different decibel levels and speak slower that you normally speak; this is important. If you doubt this watch MLK Jr. or John F. Kennedy's important speeches...
(6) Speaking slower or faster and quieter or louder and being more cheerful or more serious all adds dramatic effect and keeps the attention of your audience.
(7) Be not afriad of some repetitiveness. Repetition is necessary for information transfer... Martin Luther King was the absolute master of judicious repetition. For example: in his Washington speech of 28 August 1963, he used the phrases "I have a dream .." and "Let freedom ring ..." again and again (seven times and eight times respectively).
(8) A little humor in the opening sentences of a speech relaxes the audience and positions them onside with the speaker. Humor in the last sentence or two of a speech leaves the audience with a warm feeling towards the speaker.
(9) Make clever use of the pause. If you expect laughter or applause or you would like to create a sense of drama, pause for a couple of seconds, before continuing your speech.
(10) Whisper to emphasize significant points followed by repetition a "wee-bit" louder. This technique has been used to emphasize points in some of the major speeches of the 20th century...
Practice your speech before hand. It takes lots of practice in front of a mirror and perfect it first before the actual speech.
On the day itself, learn to focus on a person, a thing or object at the place. So, when you are giving the speech, look at it and you will be fine.
Thank you all for the advice. I"m taking a public speaking class at my university and I just wanted some pointers before giving my first speech later next week. I seem to do just fine for the first minute or so of speaking, but then I get nervous as I go on. I don't know why!
Simply practising - nervousness is like a muscle - the more you act against it (such as forcing yourself to speak or be in the spotlight) the more natural it is to not be nervous if you see what I mean...
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