Glossophobia, or a fear of public speaking, is a pretty common fear to have. In fact, most of us would be more than happy to never have to speak in front of a large group of people, but at some point it’s something we need to learn to deal with. Public speaking skills are vital in the working world. Also, since I started my Masters degree I’ve had to give more presentations than I’m happy with but as you get used to getting up on that platform and speaking, and as you watch some really, really inspirational talks on TED, you begin to notice there is a pattern in there. You start to pick up on the habits of good speakers and once you know what they are you can incorporate them into your own presentations to make them better and to make the whole experience less terrifying for you.
Okay, okay. I know this is super cliche and it’s just one of those things which make you want to tilt your head to the side and mutter, “You’re going to have to be a lot more specific, honey.” It’s okay. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t get up there and pretend to be somebody you’re not. Don’t use words or expressions you wouldn’t normally use just because Mary from Accounts uses them in her presentations and she’s a good speaker. They’ll just sound strange coming from you. Instead, make sure you have your presentation planned out well and in your own language.
Keep it short
Don’t go on forever. Nobody likes to be listening to a speech for longer than they need to. When you’re planning out your speech, think of simple and effective ways to make your point. If you can say what you need to say in five words instead of 15, do it. Your audience will be more engaged and attentive if they don’t feel like you are wasting their time.
Tell a story
Everybody loves anecdotes. Telling a personal (but not too personal!) story towards the beginning of your presentation will get the audience on your side – they will feel like you are letting them in on a little secret, and who doesn’t like secrets? Anecdotes also make your presentation a lot less formal and a lot more memorable.
Don’t fake it
You should only be talking about things you have some interest in. In other words, if everything about the offside rule makes you feel sleepy, you shouldn’t be giving a presentation on it. Your disinterest will be very apparent to your audience, and they will very quickly follow suit.
Keep it real
Think about the absolute worst that can happen. What are you most afraid of when it comes to giving your presentation? It’s not really so bad, is it? Okay, so maybe the projector decides to kick the bucket, or your flash cards are all mixed up; if you’ve prepared your speech, it’s not really that bad. Just remember nobody wants to judge you. Your audience wants to be on your side if you’ll let them. Keep it real, remember to breathe, and you’ll be alright.