Does the thought of speaking at a national sales meeting, or presenting to a new client company fill you with anxiety? From sensitive board room discussions to the basic sales spiel, the power of speech propels the world of commerce. In today’s competitive business environment, the executive who can deliver a polished, effective presentation, gains a distinct edge.
To studiously organize every aspect of your talk, yet to be remiss in handling the fear barrier, is simply, negligent. Fear is merely energy that needs to be managed. The experienced speaker uses it as an advantage, whereas the amateur can be thrown by it.
While the fear of public speaking vies closely with the fear of dying and snake phobias, there are certain tools you can use to assist in conquering your nervousness.
1) Practice, practice, practice.
Know your material thoroughly. Some professional speakers recommend being so familiar with the beginning of your speech, that if you were abruptly awakened in the middle of the night, you would be able to deliver the first few lines of your talk flawlessly.
Never, ever, wing it. Nothing can substitute for rehearsals and this will be evident in your professional delivery.
Rehearse your talk in front of a mirror. Record yourself. Practice in front of a friendly audience.
2) Be prepared.
Know your audience’s needs and decide what you want them to come away with.
On the day of your presentation, arrive early. Running late will only increase your anxiety.
Don’t rely solely on your PowerPoint or visuals to carry your talk. What if the equipment has a glitch? Have backup notes.
Check the set up of the room, your computer and the microphone.
When you are introduced, stride confidently to the lectern and watch your step!
3) Think positively about yourself.
In the days and hours leading up to your speaking date, invoke all five senses in frequent visualization exercises and envision yourself as a polished presenter. See what you are wearing and how great you look. Hear the applause and the roars of laughter (at the appropriate time, of course!). Feel the thrill of performing at your peak.
Tell yourself how wonderful you are, –repeatedly. What you give your attention to, you will attract.
Admit and understand the source of your fear. Don’t deny it.
Realize that your trepidation doesn’t have to show and that some apprehension is normal. Tap into the energy that fear is, –use it to your advantage and to raise your own energy.
Rhythmic breathing, stretching, as well as, alternately tensing and relaxing your muscles also helps.
4) Make eye contact with individuals in the audience.
When speaking, make eye contact with individuals for several seconds, rather than casting your eyes like machine gun spray over their heads. See the audience as your ally and focus on its needs.
5) Honor your time parameters.
Practice combined with preparedness conquers nerves and commands those butterflies to fly in formation.
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