9 Public Speaking Tips to Beat Those Nerves

Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by Milton Campbell

Now, let’s face it, some people are natural-born public speakers and can walk into any room and win any crowd. If you are not one of those people, don’t worry. There is hope!

If you want to become more confident when it comes to your public speaking skills, start applying the tips below.

Table of Contents

Why some people are afraid of public speaking

Nervous eyes for public speaking.

Public speaking is a fear that many people have in common. It is a fear that can hold people back professionally and personally. It can be very frustrating to see so many people give great presentations, while you freeze up and stumble through your words.

Terrified of public speaking? There are things that you can do to get over your nervousness. The first thing you should do is to identify the source of your fears and take steps to reduce them. In other words, find out why you have public speaking anxiety and then learn how to overcome it.

There are many different reasons why people are afraid of public speaking. Some people may have had a horrible experience early in life, for example, where they were ridiculed for their speech. Other people may have been made fun of by their peers for not having good eloquence when they speak publicly.

Still, others may have seen someone else embarrassed by making a mistake in front of an audience and now feel as though they will face the same embarrassment if they make a mistake while giving a speech or presentation.

A good way to figure out why you are nervous about speaking in public is to write down what caused you the fear or anxiety in the first place. Once you identify those initial causes, you can move forward with specific steps to overcome the fear.

Prepare for your speech like you would prepare for an important meeting

Image of a man giving a public speech.

Public speaking can be an intimidating undertaking. It’s easy to forget what you’re talking about in the heat of the moment or to lose your place on a PowerPoint slide. Even if you do remember what you’re supposed to say, it’s hard to remember how to say it; sometimes, we freeze up completely and can’t even think of anything coherent to say.

Trying to memorize an entire presentation is a recipe for failure. The more you try, the more scared and stressed out you’ll get — which leads to an even greater chance of failure. The key to success is actually doing the opposite: Make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible before the presentation. Focus on executing one single thing well — usually your opening — and then let everything else flow naturally from there.

At its core, public speaking isn’t that much different from any other form of communication we encounter in our daily lives. We speak all day long, whether we realize it or not: when we ask for a refill of coffee at Starbucks, when we negotiate with our boss for a raise, when we tell our spouses about our days or complain about traffic on the drive home from work. When you think about it this way, it doesn’t seem so scary after all.

Practice, practice, practice! The more you speak in public, the better you’ll get.

Tame your nerves by meeting with a group of friends and giving a short speech. Make sure they give you some honest feedback after the talk. It’s always helpful to have a friend videotape your speech so you can see how you look from the outside.

Think about what you’re going to say, not how you’ll look while saying it

When giving your speech, focus on the people in the audience rather than on yourself. And don’t worry about what others are thinking about you — remember that most people are too busy worrying about themselves to notice what’s going on around them. Be confident and smile (even if it feels awkward). People will respond positively to your confidence and be more inclined to listen to what you have to say.

Trying to figure out what other people will think about you can get in your way of speaking comfortably in public. The fear and anxiety that results from this concern can make a person not want to speak at all.

Slowing your heart rate

Image of a heart.

Tension is a big issue when it comes to public speaking. You want to make sure that you are not showing any signs of tension, especially in your face. Your audience will look at your face and if it looks like you are nervous or tense they may think that they need to be nervous as well and their attention will be diverted from the things that you are saying.

The most important thing that you can do is to slow down your heart rate before a speech. When we get nervous our heart beats faster and this makes us feel more stressed out. The last thing that you want to do is give a speech while feeling stressed out because the stress will show on your face which could make the audience uneasy. It is always best to take time before a speech to slow down your heart rate so that when it comes time for the speech there isn’t anything distracting the audience from what it is that you are trying to say.

Think of public speaking as a performance

Tame your fears by approaching public speaking as if you were putting on a show. If you’re presenting a speech, imagine the audience in front of you is at a theater waiting to hear what great story you have to share with them.

During your speech, make eye contact with some of the audience members. This helps to put them at ease and shows them that you are talking directly to them. When you start feeling nervous during your speech, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. This helps to relax your breathing and also helps bring back your focus on the task at hand. If possible, speak slowly while maintaining eye contact with your audience members. Avoid rushing through your speech because this can come across as nervousness on your part. Keep the pace steady but not too slow.

Understanding an audience, your setting and your topic is a must

When you’re about to give a presentation or speech, take a minute to think about the people in front of you. What do they know? Are they experts in your field? Are they novices? How much time will you have to tell them what you want to say? Don’t assume anything. It’s easy to get lost in the details of what you’re trying to say and forget that the audience doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

Your speech may also include visual aids, so be sure to check out their size, color, and placement before you get up on stage. If it looks like there’s not enough room for those giant charts, then maybe make smaller ones or use them just for backup. It’s better to be prepared than sorry.

You also need to know where you are going to speak. If it’s a small group of friends in a local club or meeting room, then there won’t be too many distractions. But if you are speaking in a large hall with several hundred people listening, then you need to think about how best to handle that situation. If you don’t take into account the environment, then it can become a distraction for both yourself and the audience.

Make it personal, be passionate and get excited about your topic

Make it personal. When you’re in front of an audience, it’s easy to feel like they are judging you as a person. Remind yourself that they aren’t – there just listening to what you have to say. Think about why you’re giving the speech in the first place.

Be passionate. If you talk about something that means a lot to you, your passion might infect the audience and make them excited about your topic too. Plus, if you’re passionate about your topic, it will show through in every aspect of your presentation — from your body language to the way that you deliver your words.

Get excited about your topic. If you love what you’re talking about, the audience can tell, and they’ll be more receptive towards what it is that you have to say.

The basics: Speak louder, slower & clearer

One of the most important things is that your audience can hear and understand you. Here are some tips on how to speak louder, slower, and clearer so the audience can hear and understand what you are saying:

Speak louder. This tip may seem obvious, but many people who get nervous or embarrassed when they have to speak in front of an audience don’t know how loud to speak. You will want to speak louder than normal indoor voice level or even outdoor voice level, but not as loud as shouting or yelling. Speak loud enough for people in the back row of the audience to hear you clearly.

Speak slower. Speaking slower than normal conversation levels allows your audience more time to absorb and understand what you are saying. It also gives them time to digest what you have said before moving on to the next point.

Speak clearer. Speak clearly and use simple words that everyone in the audience can easily understand. Avoid slang words that your audience may not understand.

Speak with confidence – Get in the zone

If you’re confident in what you’re saying, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t feel confident while speaking. You may be nervous, but as long as you know that what you’re saying is valuable to your audience, then they will see that and feel the same way about your speech.

Smile

Smiling face GIF

Creating a friendly tone in your speech can be as simple as smiling. A smile can help to make you appear confident and friendly. It will also put your audience at ease so they can focus on what you’re saying rather than feeling uncomfortable about how you’re saying it.

If you’re standing in front of a group of people who are trying to take in what you have to say, then you need to project yourself as someone they can trust with their time. By appearing relaxed, you convey that you’re confident in your subject matter and that they are free to relax and listen.

Conclusion

Just relax, enjoy yourself and be prepared to leave it all on the stage. Whether you’re speaking at an event with hundreds of people in the audience or just a small meeting with co-workers, remember that giving a speech in public is really just a conversation between you and your audience.

Don’t worry about being the best at public speaking, just be the best you can be. And always remember to have fun.

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Milton Campbell

I'm passionate about personal and professional development. I started Growth Tactics to not only share the knowledge I've gained as a manager and leader but also improve my skills. My vision is to help people be the best versions of themselves. Let's grow together.