During a public speaking or presentation on the stage, as a normal human, usually we will be facing a problem- anxiety. Anxiety is a normal response to any situation that involves risk. However, even nervousness can be useful if it provides the extra emotional or physical energy necessary to deliver the presentation successfully. If the fear of speaking becomes distressing, it has to be managed.
Photo credit: Tariq’s Fantasy World
Through preparation and research reduce anxiety and stage fright, so make sure that you know the subject well. This will help you feel confident. Through preparation also helps you respond to any questions and challenges from the audience. Remind yourself that you have been asked to speak on the topic because your knowledge and experience.
Check all equipment to make sure that the overhead projector, video player, the electrical outlets, seating arrangements, pens, paper and anything else you might need are available in working order.
Do an exercise to improve breath control, breathe deeply, concentrating on the diaphragm rather than the lungs. Erect posture allows deep breathing (and creates a good impression too). Movement before and during your presentation can ease muscle tension and assist breathing.
Relaxation can help anxiety, and it is worth finding a method you feel comfortable with. For example, some people focus on their positive and competent aspects. Others choose to breathe deeply. Smile at your audience and someone is likely to smile back. This increase confidence and creates empathy between you and the audience.
Move around during the talk and remember that a visual aid gives you ‘something to do’ physically. This can help to take away some of the nervousness.
Most people are more critical of their performance than the audience is. An audience appreciates your preparation, knowledge and willingness to address them. The key to overcoming stage fright is to know your subject well, and to practice delivering it. The more opportunities you have to practice to speak at meetings, to instruct staff or to address a group of clients, the more your confident and skill will increase. Consider joining a public speaking group, a drama society or a professional association to gain experience, confidence and skills for public speaking.
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