Public speaking can be the most rewarding and scariest experience of your life. Whether it be in front of a small number of your peers or on a stage in front of strangers, there are ways to make this experience a confidence builder rather than an embarrassing memory.
If you’re doing a pre-written speech, the most important thing you can do is be prepared. Practice more than you think you should, stand in front of the mirror and make sure you’re actually speaking out loud when you practice. Get to the point where you don’t even have to think about what you’re saying when you’re speaking so when the time comes to perform you can focus on other things like body language, confidence and voice level. The only warning to be said with this is to make sure your speaking seems natural rather than scripted.
It’s very important to know your audience when public speaking. For example, you wouldn’t want to sound too formal in front of kids or oppositely too lax to a possible investors. Finding that balance is important because as an audience member it’s nice to feel like the speaker is talking to you rather than just reading a script. Make sure you’re aware of the members of the audience so you can contour your speech to best suit them.
If you’re prone to nervousness in public speaking, there are ways to trick your audience into thinking you’re not. If you want to have notes in your hands (people often feel more comfortable having something in their hands) make sure it is not a flimsy piece of paper but something more solid. If you tend to shake, your audience will see and hear you shake if you’re holding something light and rickety. Focus on having a more relaxed posture rather than being rigid and stiff. These are signs of insecurity in public speaking.
As hard as it sounds, try to have fun with it! If you’re loose, confident and showing brightness from your personality through your voice, your audience is going to be much more engaged. Crack some jokes if appropriate, smile and make eye contact with everyone you’re in front of. If it’s a topic you’re passionate about or even just interested in, that can help as well. Show your passion through your voice, keep the audience interested and wanting to hear more. If the content is something you’re not interested in or seems boring to you, spice it up somehow! You’re the only one who can make this experience enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you.