Not every event or function is a formal affair featuring expert key note speakers and tight schedules printed in fancy booklets. A corporate function can be a relatively informal event where the speaker is selected from one of the attendees. For most people getting tapped to be the speaker at an upcoming function will induce fear, panic and instant writers block. Studies have shown that public speaking is high up on the fears list as one of the most stressful things that could happen in someones life. But before we get locked in the grip of hand wringing anxiety, let’s look at a few ways to overcome the fear of public speaking.
Focus on the topic
For the speech to go as smoothly as possible you need to have a wealth of knowledge on the chosen topic. Do some research and prepare your speech well in advance. Your pre-event anxiety will be reduced considerably if the topic has been chosen, the speech has been fleshed out and you’ve read through your notes a few times before the big day.
Don’t take your notes in with you
We all appreciate a good speaker and the delivery of a speech is greatly improved if the speaker does not labor through their notes. To be able to talk about something without constantly referencing your notes you need to know your stuff. This also gives you greater credibility as an authority on the topic. If you decide that you would feel safer with some notes then condense the speech down into a few easy to scan bullet points of the main topics to be covered. Don’t try to memorize your talk word for word as this renders the speech lifeless and can leave you umming and ahhing your way to a stammering standstill if you get knocked off track.
Study your audience
Having not memorized your speech you can adjust it to fit your audience with tone, style and delivery. When delivering your speech move your eyes across the crowd to include your audience. Use eye contact but keep it fleeting, don’t lock gazes with anyone as this can break your rhythm, spike your nervousness (depending who this person is) and have you floundering in seconds.
Wrap it up
Once the ball is rolling and you are in the groove it can be hard to bring the speech to its conclusion. Too much freewheeling and you will start repeating yourself, confusing the audience and you will be in real danger of blurting out a few things that will have you kicking yourself for weeks to come.
Once the speech is done find a quiet space to let the nerves settle, you may even realize that you experienced a real buzz from public speaking and find yourself volunteering for future speaker spots. Remember to congratulate yourself for facing a fear that is often listed above the fear of dying in a list of top 10 fears.