Control Public Speaking Anxiety Like a Pro with These Nine Tips  

Does the thought of making a public presentation make your heart race and your palms sweat? Not only is that perfectly normal, it’s actually a very good thing!

If you have ever given a public presentation, you’ve probably experienced some degree of speaker anxiety: that feeling of nervousness or apprehension you get just before you deliver a speech. Strangely, many people think they are alone in feeling this way. The truth is that, to some degree, everyone experiences speaker anxiety when presenting in public.

Why are so many people uncomfortable with public speaking? Fear of failure. Fear of being judged. Fear of forgetting what they’re supposed to say. Fear of exceeding their time limit. Fear of losing their voices. Fear that the equipment won’t work. What causes it? Mostly lack of confidence and experience.

Being anxious about speaking in front of others shows that you understand the importance of the presentation. And the good news is that, if properly channeled, speaker anxiety gives you the energy to give a dynamic presentation.

When you experience speaker anxiety, you have two choices: You can let the tension control you — making your knees knock and your hands shake — or you can control and release the tension by using it constructively through gestures, facial expression, and body movement.

Here are some tips on controlling speaker anxiety:

  1. Speak often. Develop confidence by volunteering to read meeting minutes, summarizing projects to fellow employees, and offering opinions during workshops.
  2. Choose topics you care about. A strong desire to communicate about a topic of interest to you will relieve a great deal of speaker anxiety.
  3. Prepare thoroughly. An unprepared speaker has good reason to be anxious. Without thorough preparation, you can’t communicate effectively with your listeners.
  4. Practice. Practice cannot be overemphasized! Practice your entire presentation out loud, including using support media. Time your presentation to make sure it is not too long or short. If possible, practice in the room where you will be speaking. Record or videotape yourself giving the presentation. Recruit friends, coworkers, or family members to listen and critique you.
  5. Prepare yourself for success. Close your eyes and imagine yourself giving your presentation sincerely and dynamically from beginning to end. Imagine your audience reacting positively.
  6. Use physical exercise. Reduce anxiety symptoms, such as knocking knees and sweating palms, by climbing stairs or going for an energetic walk before you speak. You also can use unobtrusive techniques like deep breathing, stretching, isometric exercises, or meditation to control anxiety.
  7. Use tension constructively. Much of the sparkle, alertness, and vitality you admire in good speakers is really speaker anxiety channeled into positive energy. Without that burst of nervous energy, these speakers would be listless and dull.
  8. Develop a sense of humor. No amount of preparation can prevent unforeseen mishaps like notes falling off the lectern or a PowerPoint that won’t open. If you develop the poise to laugh off problems, your audience will, too.
  9. Relax and enjoy yourself. If you have invested the time to gather data and learn about your topic, you’re well qualified to speak about it, and your audience is waiting to hear what you have to say. Have confidence in yourself and enjoy the opportunity.

Being able to address a group is one of the most valuable skills a small business person can have. Whether you are speaking to a single client in your office or making a presentation about river cruises to dozens of garden club members, a large part of your success will depend greatly on your ability to communicate effectively.

One bonus tip…You can boost your confidence level through education. For a firm foundation in the travel industry as a whole, enroll today in The Travel Institute’s TRIPKit.