Stage Fright

12 Tips for Successful Public Speaking

Public speaking doesn't need to be scary.

Posted Aug 13, 2014

It's been said that people fear public speaking even more than they fear death.  Here are some tips to get you through public speaking - and they may even help you enjoy it.  

1.  Don't take yourself too seriously.  You can get a serious message across without being solemn. 

2.  Be yourself.  You're human.  If you have some instances of tripping over your words, no one else will probably notice or even care.  

3. Use Powerpoint wisely.  Put as few points on the slides as possible.  Elaborate on those points in your lecture, not on the slides. 

4.  The night before your lecture, go to the room you will be in.  Do a test run of your projector and hookup to your laptop/tablet.  Which leads to number 5...

5.  Have backup cords and other equipment.  As they say in the engineering world, "plan for redundancy".  Carry two power cords and two A/V connectors .  If you are speaking at a hotel they may also have this stuff.  It may cost you or the company you are speaking for, though.  

5.  Get to bed at a decent hour the night before.  Have a relaxing activity before bed.  Stop reviewing your slides or other materials at least an hour before bed so you can give your brain a break.  And don't drink alcohol the night before a big presentation - your quality of sleep can be affected.  Also put out your entire outfit the night before.  

6.  Have confidence that you know what you are doing.  There's a reason why you're speaking to a group of people - you know your stuff.  Others have recognized that. 

7.  Do research ahead of time on your audience.  Where are they from?  What are their backgrounds in your professions?  What are the issues that are most important to them?  Ask them at the beginning of your lecture what they would like to learn.  

8.  Have some throat lozenges and some water on the podium if your mouth gets dry. 

9.  Remember that a week from now, or even less time than that, the people you are speaking to won't remember you as much as they remember the information you gave them.  

10.  If public speaking is causing you enough anxiety that your quality of life is affected, see your doctor.   You may need some medication to help you get to sleep the night before.  

11.  Take some deep breaths before you start.  Practice diaphragmatic breathing.  Here's a video on how to do it:

12. Remember why you are lecturing to the audience.  Is it to help them be better at their jobs?  Is it to help them help others?  Keep focused on why you are there.

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