Almost everyone dislikes public speaking. When asked what people fear most, this usually tops the list. So, if nothing else, at least you are not alone. Knowing that most people dislike public speaking and giving presentations might not help convince you that you’re normal, but what can make the experience better is planning, preparation and practicing - just like you learned in 10th grade speech class.
1. Understand Your Topic – As you are choosing a subject to talk about to your audience, it’s important to learn the topic backwards and forward. This is especially true if you plan to do a Q&A after the presentation. The better you know the topic, the easier it will be to give a presentation that is informative and achieves your goals.
2. Know Your Purpose – It might seem obvious what the purpose of the presentation is given the topic, but it’s not always clear. If your goal is to get more followers, friends, likes, and email list subscribers, that is different than if your goal is to teach a one-off class.
3. Research Your Audience – You can have a basic speech prepared on your topic, but it’s important that you change it up for each audience that you present it to. Every audience, even within the same niche, has its own make-up and education in your topic that needs to be considered each time you present.
4. Create Interesting Visuals – People are bored to death with slides with too many words. Plus it makes it tempting to just read the slide instead of talk with your audience. Consider being more creative with visuals and go by the motto of less is more. You can always hand out more complete slides as a tutorial or guide for those who want more notes.
5. Don’t Memorize - Write down figures and quotes so that you don’t have to rely on your memory. However, the rest of your presentation should be done naturally with the information you’ve studied and learned in your own words.
6. Silence Is OK – Many people get out of breath during presentations because their rate of speech increases and the presenter forgets to take a breath. When you realize as a speaker that silence and pauses are okay, then the presentation will become more doable and even relaxing and enjoyable.
7. Small Talk Is Necessary – Even if you’re talking to a room of 1000, the ability to engage in small talk with your audience will not only calm your fears, but it will also build important rapport with them as well as trust for further business together.
8. Practice, Practice, Practice – This last point cannot be emphasized enough, but the truth is, practice is your best defense against nerves. You don’t necessarily have to practice the same presentation over and over to become good at presenting. Just getting in front of people more often will make you more comfortable in general. Consider joining toastmasters or another group that requires you to present on occasion.
Even if you hate giving presentations, you can still host events. Ask others to join you so that your part doesn’t have to be as long as other people's. Consider being the host who introduces the experts, or the person who interviews them rather than being a presenter. There are many ways around the fear and honestly, once you do a few you’ll be more relaxed about them.