I spent the first few decades of my life being absolutely terrified about speaking in front of an audience. I'm sure you can relate if you feel the same – heart pounding, hands shaking and your thoughts are all jumbled up! It has taken me many years and countless hours of practice to feel comfortable in front of an audience. I know that if I can overcome my fear, you can too!
In my latest video I share my top tips for overcoming your fear of public speaking.
You can do it!!
Here's a summary of my tips
1. Practice, practice, practice. I know this is obvious, but there are specific things you’ll want to do to become more comfortable speaking in front of an audience:
2. Be prepared and bring notes with you. Most of my presentations are done with the help of Powerpoint slides, so I have key points to reference but when I don’t have that option, I create a handout that I give to everyone so they can follow along, but it’s also for me. I never read it word for word, but at least it’s there as back up.
Don’t make the mistake of being overly confident in your info because if nervousness strikes it’s easy to forget. Have a back up.
3. Avoid stimulants, like caffeine, the day you’re speaking. Whenever I do early morning TV segments, I'll drink chamomile tea or my Rise and Shine Latte (rather than my usual London Fog ) and skip all things that may cause any amount of stimulation or blood-sugar imbalance.
4. Make sleep a priority leading up to your presentation. Sleep is the best way to lower cortisol, which is your stress hormone that increases along with adrenalin when you're speaking. If you’re sleep deprived you’ll feel more anxious and your nervousness will be greatly enhanced. Sleep calms the nervous system , and a calm nervous system is key!!!
5. Connect with your audience. When I'm nervous, I'll scan the room for the most friendly faces and make eye contact with them often throughout my presentation. This immediately puts me at ease! This is a strategy to being a great speaker, too. When a presenter looks into the eyes of audience members, the audience feels more invested and engaged in what they're saying.
6. Take 10 deep breaths, on and off, five to 10 minutes before speaking. Deep diaphragmatic breaths oxygenate your whole body, sending nourishment to your brain and switching on the parasympathetic nervous system. Even though you’ll likely switch into sympathetic (fight or flight) mode while you’re speaking, remind yourself this is normal – and even good! Your alertness is heightened, your mind is sharp and you're ready!
7. Exercise the day you’re speaking. Some people may benefit more from a brisk jog or a weight-training session while others may exercise their mind and body with yoga and meditation. I do yoga , which really balances and centres me.
8. Avoid eating right before you talk. When your adrenalin rises, which is natural when you speak, all your body's blood and energy is taken away from your digestive system. This can lead to an upset tummy if you’ve just eaten. Conversely, speaking can take up a lot of energy so you don’t want to be hungry either!
9. Be punctual. Scratch that, be EARLY. I like to arrive at the place I’m speaking about 30 minutes ahead of time. Arriving early will help you become comfortable with the room and your surroundings. Plus you can get all setup and make sure you have no tech issues.
10. While you’re speaking remember to breath. When you're nervous, you talk faster. Taking a pause and a deep breath is not awkward at all. Most people won’t even notice.
I still feel that nervous sensation from time to time. Recently, I was at an event where I had to tell a crowd of about 25 successful women about myself, and I felt my heart pumping, but it reminded me I'm ALIVE and I pushed through it. The goal is not to take away all nerves, the goal is to be able to manage your nervousness and not let it negatively impact your performance!
Wishing you success!
Ps. A final point is to make sure you feel your best. Choose an outfit the night before that you feel confident and comfortable in.