“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld
Public speaking… the thought of it still makes me cringe. I chose to enter a field where I will be doing this more likely than I would like, so I better get used to it. I remember when I first started giving presentations in high school. Bright head, sweating, reading directly from note cards as fast as I could without stopping to breathe.
Thankfully I have made some progress over the years, through loads of practice. I was a shy kid growing up so naturally speaking in front of a room full of people didn’t exactly come easily to me. I hated giving presentations so I figured that the only way to fix that was to give as many as I could. I took public speaking twice while in high school and again during my freshman year of college. I am still not as calm in front of a crowd as I would like, but I’m still working on it.
Public Relations Nation recently posted a blog post titled, The fear of ExPRessing yourself that gave some tips for how to deal with the fear of public speaking. They gave a few good ones, but I thought that I would share some that work for me.
- Wear lightweight clothing – When I’m nervous I tend to start over heating. Instead of stripping off layers when I am in the middle of a presentation in order to keep from passing out, I prefer to wear a lightweight shirt that is only a single layer. Even if it’s cold enough for a wool sweater, don’t do it!
- Slow down – I know when you are presenting you are just counting the minutes until you’re finished, but try not to rush through it. Without realizing it you will be talking faster than normal if you are nervous so make a conscious effort to be aware of how fast you are speaking.
- Have a cup of water – Whenever it is possible, I highly recommend it. If you are nervous just take a breath and a sip of water. It will help to calm your nerves and to cool you down if you are overheating.
So those are a few tricks that I find helpful.
What do you do to stay calm under the pressure of public speaking?