Did you know that 73% of the population suffers from glossophobia?
That's the fear of public speaking that appears when you are performing or expected to perform an oral presentation or speech in front of other people. The underlying fear is judgement or negative evaluation by others. I'm sure you've noticed people around you experience this. When people are put on the spot and asked to speak, even the usually eloquent ones can start to stutter and stumble over their words.
People might start sweating, and you see the cue cards in their hands start to shake. Some might stand unnaturally stiff and even forget to blink like a regular human, and end up bearing a resemblance to a robot. Others fidget too much, shifting from side to side and having their hands make vague, awkward motions that distract more than add to the presentation. There are a variety of ways anxiety for presentations can manifest in individuals, ranging from mild symptoms of light sweating to severe symptoms like queasiness and throwing up.
There are a variety of ways anxiety for presentations can manifest in individuals, ranging from mild symptoms of light sweating to severe symptoms like queasiness and throwing up. Regardless of what symptoms you might suffer, this inability to speak publicly can be detrimental to both your personal and professional life. This is especially so for those in leadership positions, who have to give casual speeches to their team, or formal presentations of reports to their higher ups. Statistics have found that a fear of public speaking inhibits promotion to management and can be attributed to wages cuts, and... only 8% of those who fear public speaking seek professional help despite this proven impact on career progression and wages.
Do you want to remain as one of the 73%, or do you want to overcome this fear?
Here are some of our tips and recommendations!
1. Focus on the takeaways and keep it simple
It all starts with the planning of the presentation, and making sure the end result sticks to eliciting the response that it was originally intended to. Be clear on the key message that is meant to be delivered, and identify the takeaways you want the audience to leave remembering. Now that you know what you want people to walk away from your presentation with, you have to figure out how to communicate it.
The best way to communicate? Short, simple, and sweet.
While this applies for all speakers, it is especially relevant for speakers just starting to venture into public speaking. For beginners, using complicated jargon and overly complex explanations for simple concepts is a big no-no.
All it will do is make you appear to be an unconfident and weak speaker if the difficult words combined with your existing nervousness makes you struggle through the speech. Worse yet, if you stutter through your sentences and have those sentences be part of a very elaborate and lengthy, people might not even understand what the whole point of the presentation was! By keeping your presentation short and sweet, and your takeaway message simple, your team and supervisors can both say that there was clarity and that they understood the presentation. After you have mastered this, you can start to explore lengthier, and intricate presentations (which can also amazing if delivered well).
2. Mind your body language
You might know that you are nervous. But others don't, unless you express and show it to them through your body language. So avoid the common nervous tics that people get and as they say, 'fake it till you make it'! Refer to the image below to see if any of your tics have been mentioned.
3. Practice, practice, practice!
This last step is extremely obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't do this enough. Record yourself when you practice and play it back to observe your behavior in terms of body language and vocal tone. Are you gesticulating too much? Too little? Is your voice too soft? Did you place emphasis on the right words? Did you take pauses where you should have? It is also useful to take note of the length of time you are taking to complete the presentation to make sure you don't go over or too far under the time limit given. Getting feedback from a friend or family member on the video you record could be helpful as well!
See? Overcoming the fear of presenting might not be so difficult after all. With these tips, you can take the first steps to becoming a presenter who captures the audience's interests, creates understanding and accomplishes the goals of the presentation. Of course, this isn't everything there is to being a good presenter - check out our blog in the coming days for more on presentation skills!