Many people get nervous or freeze up when speaking in front of large crowds. Fear of speaking in public is one of the most commonly-held fears, along with fear of death and arachnophobia. Because many career paths require entrepreneurs to have good public speaking skills, it is essential to learn to how to overcome onstage fear.
Since public speaking skills can be career defining, they are very desirable skills to possess. Below are 8 simple ways you can become more comfortable and confident when speaking in front of large crowds.
1. Make a great first impression.
First impressions stand out. Audiences tend to judge a speaker even before they open their mouth. Therefore, your clothing should be sharp and event-appropriate to avoid being misjudged.
In addition, choose a simple speech introduction that is easy to comprehend. This will capture and hold the attention of your audience.
2. Have the end of the speech in mind.
When giving a speech in public, always focus on the end of the speech and what you hope to achieve. Knowing the desired outcome will help in streamlining the presentation and keep you focused on the end result.
3. Keep your audience engaged.
No matter how serious the subject matter is, it is important to keep the audience engaged by giving life examples. Audiences love hearing about stuff that they can relate to. Giving one or two stories during a presentation is bound to grab the audience’s attention. However, be careful not to turn the whole presentation into a joke by telling too many unrelated stories.
4. Be aware of your body language and posture.
Keeping a good posture while speaking is recommended, as it implies you are confident; thus the audience will be drawn in by your persona. The way you stand and walk sends a lot of signals to the audience, determining how they react. If the audience detects that you are uncomfortable, they will also be uncomfortable, consequently turning the whole speech into a flop.
5. Smile often!
Smiling shows that a speaker is in control and comfortable on stage. It also tells the audience that you believes what you are talking about. Smiling at the audience from time to time will get them to smile back and ease the pressure. Although smiling is generally encouraged, be mindful of smiling when discussing difficult subject matter.
6. Maintain consistent eye contact.
Maintaining eye contact will keep the audience interested. Shy people tend to look at the wall when speaking in public, which is not a good public speaking mannerism. Scanning through the audience while speaking to them will make them feel important and draw them in. Connecting with the audience can also reduce any presentation jitters you may have.
On the other hand, avoid looking at people who are falling asleep as this might kill the spirit of the presentation.
7. Change up your speaking patterns.
Don’t maintain the same posture or tone of voice throughout the entire presentation; this will make some audience members lose interest. Be sure to have a variety of styles to spice up the presentation to keep the attention of the audience.
8. Be aware of your facial expressions.
It has been said that over ninety percent of all communication is nonverbal.
So, be sure your facial expressions match the topic of the presentation. Having the right facial expression will also give you, as a speaker, a chance to show the audience what you are most passionate about. Authentic passion will translate as confidence and keep the audience engaged.
Practice does make perfect. The more you speak in front of a crowd, the more confident you will become. You may also want to practice in front of a mirror or videotape yourself beforehand. Doing a run-through of the speech will help with flow and timing and will help you see what you need to improve on. Also, look into taking a class or two on public speaking.
Dee Fletcher is self-employed as a freelancer and ghost writer. She also likes to do guest blogging. She writes mostly about current trends or events in various industries, but also writes advice and how to articles.