CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – APRIL 29, 2021
Tips for Managing Public Speaking Anxiety
Tips on Preparing for a Speech
In addition to traditional treatment, there are a number of strategies that you can use to cope with speech anxiety and become better at public speaking in general. Public speaking is like any activity—better preparation equals better performance. When you are better prepared, it will boost your confidence and make it easier to concentrate on delivering your message.
Whether you are giving a speech at a wedding, a shareholders’ convention, or in a college classroom, there are strategies that you can use when it comes to managing anxiety.6
Even if you have SAD, with proper treatment and time invested in preparation, you can deliver a successful speech or presentation.
Choose a topic that interests you. If you are able, choose a topic that you are excited about. If you are not able to choose the topic, try using an approach to the topic that you find interesting. For example, you could tell a personal story from your life that relates to the topic, as a way to introduce your speech. This will ensure that you are engaged in your topic and motivated to research and prepare. When you present, others will feel your enthusiasm and be interested in what you have to say.
Become familiar with the venue. Ideally, you should try to visit the conference room, classroom, auditorium, or banquet hall where you will be presenting before you give your speech. If possible, try practicing at least once in the environment that you will eventually be speaking in. Being familiar with the venue and knowing where needed audio-visual components are ahead of time will mean one less thing to worry about at the time of your speech.
Ask for accommodations. Accommodations are changes to your work environment that help you to manage your anxiety. If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder such as social anxiety disorder (SAD), you may be eligible for these through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If there is something that would make you more comfortable during your speech or presentation, see if it’s a change that can be made. Ask for a podium, have a pitcher of ice water handy, bring in audiovisual equipment, or even choose to stay seated if appropriate—whatever might make it easier for you to manage your anxiety.
Don’t script it. Have you ever sat through a speech where someone read from a prepared script word for word? You probably don’t recall much of what was said. Instead, prepare a list of key points on 8.5” X 11” paper that you can refer to. Although using cue cards might be tempting, flipping through a stack of cards can be a distraction for your audience.
Prepare for hecklers. Although it’s not likely that you’ll have hecklers at your wedding or 50th-anniversary party, criticism or difficult questions are always possibilities in a business setting. Deal with a difficult audience member by paying him a compliment or finding something that you can agree on.
Say something like, “Thanks for that important question” or “I really appreciate your comment.” Convey that you are open-minded and relaxed. If you don’t know how to answer the question, say you will look into it. Before your presentation, try to anticipate hard questions and critical comments that might arise and prepare responses ahead of time.
Practice, practice, practice! Even people who are comfortable speaking in public rehearse their speeches many times to get them right. Practicing your speech 10, 20, or even 30 times will give you confidence in your ability to deliver. If your talk has a time limit, time yourself during practice runs and adjust your content as needed to fit within the time that you have. Lots of practice will help boost your self-confidence.