People are scared s**tless about speaking in public. I, too, feel the same…
Tip #1: In Your Underwear
They always say to picture your audience in underwear. I used to try this technique, but I had an ominous experience when one day, I had to read one of my novels (during a routine book tour) to a group of elderly men and women. This tip obviously made things worse, as all I could do was picture flappy skin in tighty-whities. So, ignore this tip, but instead learn to picture the audience as friends and family who support you. Often our biggest fear is overcome when we have emotional support, so try this technique and see if it makes things any easier.
Tip #2: Get The Camera Out
Whether a DSLR, a camcorder, or an iPhone, the best way to learn how to speak in public is to simply film yourself doing it. I watched a wonderful course on public speaking. The main idea was to practice in front of a camera. This allows you to isolate your body movements, your posture, and your wording. Turn the camera on and go at it. Remember, your goal is not perfection. It is simply to lose that “fear” you have about speaking in public. It makes life a lot easier with technology handy!
Tip #3: Hand & Body Posture
The one mistake most people make when public speaking is forgetting to articulate. Body language consumes about 80 percent of our perception of another person. When you stand rigid and tense, it will show in your voice. In hindsight, when you walk around, using emphasis on your hands and body movements while speaking, you have mastered the battle. Though you are not done yet, practice using your hands. A link to my course on this can be found here.
Tip #4: Don’t Try & Memorize
Instead, simply do what I do: keep a one-page cheat sheet with the items you wish to discuss. Practice speaking in front of a camera over and over again; find a group of friends or a family member, and present to them. This is practice, not perfection! If you try and memorize a script, it will not come out naturally. You need to instead focus on each point one-by-one, going down the list of items, and simply having the memory to speak in public without memorization.
Tip #5: Abandon Your Fear!
I once said in a lecture: “Abandon your fear.” My point was not about public speaking, but the same rule applies: when stressed or afraid, you have chemicals in your brain that “constrict” your memory. One such chemical is cortisol. Cortisol causes sincere stress, thus inhibiting the brain’s ability to recall your key points. Lower this by active breathing, and learn to not fear your audience. Who are they anyway? They are just people, and you know what? You’re in charge of them!