Afraid of Public Speaking? Tips to Ease the Fear.

January 24, 2011

Today I helped my friend Melissa prepare for a presentation. She was asked to present her job responsibilities and background to the CEO and Chief HR Bigwig. Melissa knows her job well and can do it in her sleep, yet the thought of speaking in public is quite frightening. When I asked Melissa what she did she was easily able to articulate it, but the thought of doing a “presentation” scared her beyond belief.

I have been speaking in public for six years professionally and been giving presentations much longer than that. I wouldn’t say that I am expert or a must-see speaker, but when I know a topic, I am pretty confident when talking about it. Here are a few tips that I gave to Melissa. Let me know if you agree.

1. Speaking to a group is just like speaking to people one-on-one. Just pretend that you are having a conversation with each individual in the audience.
2. Remember that people expect that you are the subject matter expert and if you are confident then they will believe in what you say.
3. Tell a story. Don’t memorize, but speak from the heart.
4. Don’t over practice, don’t under practice. Know your material enough to be natural, but don’t turn into a robot.
5. Hold a pen or piece of paper if you have wild hands. I speak with my hands a lot and have been told that it can distract from the message.
6. Don’t turn your back to the audience to read the slides. You an index card with key words if you need a prompt.
7. Dress professionally, but wear sexy underwear. Feel your best on the outside and the inside.

This is just a short list of tips. I hope that other speakers weigh in and share your speaking best practices.