For many people, there’s something uniquely frightening about talking in front of a group. Even people who are otherwise outgoing and confident can struggle with anxiety when asked to present or speak.
It may feel daunting to you now. But, public speaking is a skill—and with time and practice, your ability, comfort and confidence can grow.
Approaching the podium
Before your speech, get there early—and take some time to greet people. It may help you feel more at ease to see familiar faces in the crowd.
Most important, when it’s your time to speak, just be yourself. Don’t worry about being perfect. People tend to enjoy speakers who are genuine and human.
Besides, when you learn to accept yourself—and not feel as if you have to prove something to others—it can help address the root of your anxiety.
Here are some additional tips for taming stage fright:
- Remember why you’re there. Try to focus on your audience’s needs rather than your fears.
- Know your topic. Remind yourself that you are the expert people need to hear.
- Practice, practice, practice. You might enlist some supportive friends or family to hear your presentation before the big day.
- Visualize your success. See yourself in the setting – calm, prepared and carrying it off.
- Before you speak, do some deep breathing or other relaxation techniques to help calm your mind and body.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both are stimulants that can increase anxiety.
- During your talk, think of your audience as friends. Smile. Make eye contact.
- Try to be your most confident self – even if you’re not particularly feeling that way in the moment.
Remember, speaking in public can get easier. Be patient—and remind yourself that you’re developing a new skill.
By Arleen Fitzgerald, L.I.C.S.W., and Melanie Polk, M.M.Sc., R.D., F.A.D.A.
Content courtesy of UnitedHealthcare