getting over a fear of public speaking

3 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

July 13, 2023
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Imagine you're standing in front of a large audience, your heart pounding and your palms sweating. The spotlight is on you, and as you take a deep breath, you realize there's no turning back. It's a common scenario many of us dread: public speaking.

Public speaking is an essential skill that can open doors in both your personal and professional life. Whether it's presenting at work, speaking at social gatherings, or even engaging in everyday conversations, the ability to communicate effectively can make all the difference. Unfortunately, for many people, the fear of public speaking holds them back from reaching their full potential.

In this article, we'll explore three surprising tips that will help you conquer your fear and improve your public speaking skills. By following these strategies, you'll be well on your way to delivering confident and engaging messages that leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Overcoming Fears and Challenges in Public Speaking

Public speaking can be a daunting task for many, as it often triggers various fears and challenges. Some common ones include the fear of being judged or criticized, stumbling over words, forgetting key points, or simply freezing up in front of an audience. 

These hurdles can significantly impact a person's confidence and effectiveness as a speaker. So, in the following sections, we will explore strategies for overcoming these fears to help you become a better public speaker.

3 Surprising Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking

Check out this quick video that'll help you discover three unexpected yet powerful tips that will elevate your presentations, captivate your audience, and help you overcome any fear of public speaking:

To summarize, here are three things to stop doing to start making public speaking a little easier:

1. Stop being afraid of silence

Silence can be a powerful tool when used in the right way. Instead of feeling uncomfortable and anxious when there is a pause in your presentation, use it to your advantage. Varying your pacing and letting the audience take a moment to process and reflect on what you have said can actually make your message more impactful. Additionally, it gives you time to take a breath and collect your thoughts before continuing. By embracing the silence, you can demonstrate confidence and composure, which can help boost your credibility as a speaker.

2. Stop forgetting to breathe

When you become anxious or overwhelmed, it's easy to forget to breathe. This can cause you to become even more nervous and anxious, making it difficult to deliver a coherent message. Before speaking, take a few deep breaths to help calm your nerves. This will also help you to think more clearly and give you the mental clarity you need to present your ideas in an organized manner. Additionally, try to maintain a steady breathing pattern throughout your presentation. This will help keep you grounded and focused on the task at hand.

3. Stop reinventing the wheel

Instead of trying to create an entirely new approach to public speaking, leverage existing resources and proven strategies that have already helped countless speakers succeed. There are numerous books, online courses, workshops, and even TED talks dedicated to improving public speaking skills. By learning from the experiences and techniques of accomplished speakers, you can build a strong foundation for your own presentations.

Practice, Rehearse, and Boost Your Public Speaking Confidence

One of the most effective ways to overcome your fear of public speaking is through consistent practice and rehearsal. Here are some tips to help you practice effectively and boost your confidence as a speaker:

  • Start small: Begin by practicing in front of a mirror or recording yourself on video. This allows you to observe your body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice without the added pressure of an audience.
  • Rehearse out loud: While it might be tempting to simply run through your speech in your head, speaking it out loud will help you identify any awkward phrasings or stumbling points that need refining.
  • Time yourself: Ensure that your speech fits within the allotted time frame by using a timer during rehearsals. This will also help you become comfortable with pacing and transitions between different sections of your presentation.
  • Practice with an audience: Once you're comfortable with your material, enlist friends or family members to serve as a mock audience. Ask for feedback on both content and delivery so that you can make necessary adjustments before the big day.
  • Visualize success: Spend time visualizing yourself delivering a successful presentation, which can help build confidence and reduce anxiety leading up to the event.

By incorporating these practice strategies into your preparation routine, you'll not only gain familiarity with your material, but you’ll also develop confidence in your ability to captivate an audience and communicate effectively.

Handling Unexpected Situations and Questions

No matter how well-prepared you are, unexpected situations or questions can arise during a presentation. Here are some strategies for handling these moments with grace and confidence:

  • Pause and think: When faced with a challenging question or situation, take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding. A brief pause can give you time to formulate a clear and concise answer.
  • Acknowledge the issue: If you don't know the answer to a question or if something goes awry, it's okay to admit it. Be honest with your audience, and let them know that you'll either look into the matter later or address it after the presentation.
  • Stay calm and composed: Unexpected events can be unnerving, but maintaining composure is crucial for maintaining credibility as a speaker. Take deep breaths, focus on your message, and continue delivering your presentation with confidence.
  • Redirect the conversation: If an audience member poses an off-topic question or comment, politely steer the discussion back to your main points by saying something like "That's an interesting point, but right now I'd like to focus on..."
  • Have backup material ready: Prepare additional slides or talking points that can be used in case of technical difficulties or if you need to fill extra time.

Being able to adapt and respond effectively during unexpected situations demonstrates professionalism and mastery of your subject matter—qualities that will leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Play Games to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Mastering public speaking is achievable through consistent practice, overcoming fears, and learning how to handle unexpected situations. Remember these key strategies: embrace silence, don't forget to breathe, and avoid reinventing the wheel.

And as you work on developing your skills, consider using the Elevate brain training app, available on both iOS and Android. The app offers engaging games specifically designed to train public speaking and overall communication abilities. With Elevate, you can sharpen your skills while having fun at the same time—setting yourself up for success in both personal and professional settings. Start your journey toward becoming a confident and captivating speaker today with Elevate!

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