One simple phrase can strike fear into the hearts and minds of professionals around the world:  “Public Speaking.”

Imagine you just found out that you have to deliver a presentation to a group of managers. Whether you’re giving a weekly update or proposing an annual budget, you may immediately feel a pit in your stomach. Even the thought of standing up in front of a group may make your heart pound, your knees weak and your face turn red.

If this describes you, then you clearly have a fear of public speaking and need to find a way to overcome these nerves. The good news is that you can control it. You can stand up in front of a group and deliver information in a confident, concise way. All you need are a few simple tools to build your confidence and get you off to a great start. The following three tips will get you headed in the right direction:

1. Practice makes perfect. You should strive for at least three complete practice sessions. Consider it a dress rehearsal. Speak out loud, use visual aids, stand up, and even consider dressing the part. When practicing, expect to deliver the information in a slightly different way each time. Most importantly, do not memorize your speech or read a script. Practice from bullet points only. When you practice out loud from bullet points, you will hear yourself say the information in a slightly different way every time, which is good. If you memorize your speech, then forget a word while presenting, you are more likely to be thrown off track simply because you missed a word or phrase.

2. Sneak a peek. Forget what to say? The sneak peek is best used if you choose to move from one side of the room to the other. Finish the sentence you are on and pause. At that moment, turn and walk to the other side of the room. As you are walking, look back to the screen and silently read one or two bullet points. While you are doing this, make sure you take a deep breath. When your thoughts are in order, stop walking, square up to one person in the audience and resume speaking. Because you were walking, the audience will have no idea that you lost train of thought. 

3. Tell a story. Consider opening your presentation with a short relevant story. It will help your voice become more conversational and it will help relax you and your audience. Besides, people love to listen to stories. For best results, tell your own story. This is important because you can relive the event. It will allow your personality to shine through during your talk. The best stories are lively, fun and help the audience get to know you. Your story should make a point that helps emphasize your position. When providing a lot of information, it is important to humanize the material with your own experiences. You will want to share how this information helped you, a client or colleague and how it can help your audience.

About the author

Sheri Jeavons

Sheri Jeavons is a highly regarded communications consultant, dynamic speaker and entrepreneur. Realizing that…

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