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Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

One of the most terrifying experiences you may face in your professional life is a presentation gone wrong, where the idea of public speaking becomes too much to bear, and damages your delivery. For me, it was almost a year ago. I found myself at a loss for words, sweating nervously as I stood there, and made what would have been a great presentation mediocre and forgetful.

There are proven ways to avoid this situation and master the skill of public speaking. Someone who is capable of addressing a large group of people is an extremely valuable asset to any company. Using these skills has allowed me to confidently undertake a discussion in front of an audience without letting my mind get the best of me.

The most important questions to ask yourself are whether you understand your audience, and what your intended goal is for your discussion. A presentation in front of a dozen friends must be treated differently, when compared to a presentation in front of a hundred strangers. A presentation in front of an audience of industry professionals should be addressed differently when there are people among them who have little to no knowledge on your topic. Sometimes, you may need to state the obvious, or repeat yourself, so that you can accommodate a mixed audience of those who easily understand you and those who don’t.

As for your goal, the best way to set yourself up for success is to develop a presentation outline. It may sound too simple, but knowing where you want your presentation to go and maintaining your focus keeps it concise and complete.

When it comes to your mindset, practicing and preparing your presentation beforehand can give you confidence in your familiarity. You shouldn’t be memorizing every word and you shouldn’t be diving in without any structure. But, it’s always best to over prepare. Go through your presentation several times, time yourself in your delivery, maybe even record yourself and watch it to see where you can improve.

To give yourself confidence in your public speaking, talk about your experiences with the topic. Turn it into something with which you’ve had years experience. Whether it’s your work on a company project or how embracing a positive work attitude has helped you grow, it can turn a repetitive discussion into a relatable and impacting conversation.

If you are still overcome with anxiety about the idea of public speaking, taking in slow and steady breaths or thinking deeply about something that you know is calming can help you overcome your nerves. Hosting the presentation like a conversation can help remove attention from yourself as well, so that the focus isn’t always on what you’re saying.

Learn to master public speaking regardless of your profession, regardless of your prior experience, regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. The ability to address a crowd without faltering is very hard to find, and can be a positive and unique way to stand out when you need to.