people-314481_1280The fear of speaking in front of 5 or 500 people is shared by virtually everyone and cuts across all professions, social classes and leadership levels. There are lots of reasons why this fear wells up and seems to choke our confidence and vocal cords. But this blog post isn’t about the problem – it’s about the solution!

How do we not only overcome this fear, yet give a top notch speech at the same time? Here are 7 non-pharmaceutical (and non-alcoholic) ways to focus on giving a top-notch performance:

  1. You Rock!
    Remind yourself that you know this information better than anyone else, that you’re well prepared, and that your audience needs this information. Say this “mantra” to yourself again and again! Don’t let negative thoughts enter your active mind space. C’mon, say it like you mean it: “I know this better than anyone else, I’m well prepared, and these people NEED this!”
  2. Know your topic and audience 
    Be the expert in your topic. Know your information forwards and backwards. Understanding to whom you are talking and including relevant and enlightening information in your speech will cement yourself as an authority.
  3. Practice aloud – even if it’s a 30 second introduction 
    Writing a speech and giving a speech are two very different things. You will naturally find yourself changing, refining or improving your content once you speak aloud. Go ahead and make the changes as you speak, and at some time confirm your changes, stick with them, and begin practicing the same version over and over again until you feel confident about your presentation.
  4. Always warm up 
    Warming up your body and voice at the beginning of an important day and right before a presentation will dramatically improve your presence and believability. Five minutes of stretching, deep breathing, and reminding yourself that you ROCK will make you more at ease.
  5. Don’t apologize, or say you’re nervous
    Remember – people want you to succeed. If, in a lame attempt to relate to the audience, you say you’re nervous, they’ll no doubt notice it. While your mind may be racing in the three seconds that tick by as you approach the podium, the audience isn’t even paying attention. Why tell them that you’re nervous or say “sorry” for something as a way to get their attention? They expect you to be the best for them. Don’t tell them you’re not.
  6. Hold the microphone with your non-dominant hand 
    If you are given a microphone, hold it in your non-dominant hand so that you can gesture freely with the hand you normally write or “talk” with. You will feel much more comfortable physically if you follow this simple advice.
  7. Hire a presentation coach 
    If you have a very important presentation coming up or if your livelihood is connected to your communication skills, invest in training – top athletes would never enter a competition without the support of the best coach they can find.

OK, I’ll admit there are probably more than 7 ways to quell the nervousness and near-panic you are feeling. Frankly, if you just do two or three of these steps, you’ll be on your way to a better presentation.

What tips for settling down and giving a great presentation have I missed? What works for you? Please share in the comment section below.