While I didn’t have a list of public speaking tips to help me prepare for events like this, I now know how helpful it would have been if I had one. With that in mind, I spoke to some public speaking experts about their top tricks for overcoming fear of public speaking. Read on to add them to your repertoire.
Tips for public speaking from experts
1. Know the audience in advance.
Regardless of the topic you are speaking about, it helps to know the people you are presenting to. “Before you speak, you should have an idea of your audience’s knowledge level, expectations, and demographics,” says public speaker, best-selling author, broadcaster, and coach Daniel Mangena. “Not only does this make you feel more comfortable and comfortable, but it also allows you to resonate and connect on a deeper level.”
2. It’s about the message, not you.
Instead of worrying about what the audience thinks about you, change your mindset to think about how they will think about your message. “It can be very easy to get inside your own head and feel pressure when all eyes are on you,” says TikTok star Christine Buzan, a posing expert and confident TikTok star. “Instead of worrying about how you will be perceived, focus first on what you want to achieve with your message. I’ve found that most compelling speeches do one of three things: entertain, inspire, or educate.” With that in mind, Buzan says you should think about your desired end goal — not the fear of judgment. “How do you want your audience to feel? What should they do? What value do you want them to take with you?” She urges you to ask yourself before your next big speech. By focusing on the bigger picture and the purpose of your speech, she says, self-doubt will fall by the wayside.
Hypnotist, holistic health coach, and founder of SIVA Wellness, Sarah Donner agrees. “Shift the focus from you to them,” she says.
3. Keep an outline.
An easy way to keep the focus on your audience and not yourself is to create an outline that describes everything you want to share with them so they get the most out of the presentation. “Start with your main goal and come up with three to four stories or facts that articulate your goal,” says Buzan. But whatever you do, don’t just keep your eyes on your outline. “It’s called public speaking, not public reading,” Buzan reminds us.
4. Contact the organizer to determine their intent for the event.
Not sure where to start your outline? Chat with the organizer of the event you’re speaking at for guidance. “Depending on the organizer’s involvement in your speech, you should establish a good relationship with them beforehand,” Mangena, the author of Stepping Beyond Intention. “This will allow both of you to align with the larger purpose of your presentation and the event as a whole. It can be obvious when a speech isn’t genuine or seems disjointed, so setting values and calls to action is essential.”
5. Practice, practice, practice.
As with anything, practice makes perfect (or at least almost). With that in mind, Donner suggests practicing your speech in front of loved ones, especially those who are newbies in the field you are speaking on. “They can let you know if you’re making sense to everyone in the room, regardless of their prior knowledge,” she explains. “For example; if you’re the maid of honor, we already know that you and the bride share a lot of inside jokes, but take this moment to share something that will touch all guests equally, regardless of how close they are to it standing pair.”
6. Stick yourself while practicing.
Buzan recommends sticking yourself up while practicing. “I found it most helpful to do two recorded runs,” she says. “I always tell the people I work with to practice their poses in front of a mirror to get comfortable. This is no different. Practicing in front of a mirror helps me to be objective about my body language and to listen to my presentation.”
7. Find your pace.
If you’re nervous about speaking in front of an audience, there’s a very good chance you’re subconsciously speeding through your speech at such a high rate that it’s difficult to understand. Obviously you don’t want that to happen. As such, Buzan recommends studying other successful speakers to determine what you admire about their presentations and ultimately emulating their pace and presentation. “Where are you taking a break? Do they emphasize certain words or parts of their message? Do they captivate the audience or play on their cues? Try it out while practicing,” she says.
8. Believe in what you say.
If your goal is to persuade and/or inspire your audience, it’s important that you speak with passion. “When the audience sees that you’re passionate and confident in what you’re saying, you’ll find that they’re more inclined to listen and trust you,” says Mangena. “It should go without saying, but never give a speech about something you don’t believe in.”
9. Stay true to your personality.
Another thing you don’t want to do while speaking in front of an audience? Appear inauthentic. “A public speaking — especially when you’re toasting to a group of people you know — isn’t the right time to try out a new personality,” says Buzan. “Of course public speaking pushes you out of your comfort zone, but remember to reinforce aspects of your personality even further so that they set you apart. If you’re good at explaining things, lean on that. When you’re goofy, let your inner class clown shine. Remember to maximize your strengths instead of overhauling your personality.”
10. Make use of your space.
If you’re given a stage to present, use it—don’t just stand there and speak. “Use your space and environment to your advantage so you can better connect with your audience,” says Buzan. “I talk about this quite a bit in my posing guides, but the same tips apply when speaking in public or posing for the camera. Don’t be afraid to engage with your surroundings in a sensible way.”
Be honest. You don’t have to know everything – not even about the topics you are talking about. “If you don’t have all the facts on an issue, be honest and stand by it,” says Mangena. “The audience will appreciate that honesty and will trust you more in return.”
11. Consider hypnotherapy.
If all of these tips and tricks don’t ease your fear of public speaking, Donner says hypnotherapy may be able to help. “The biggest misconception is that we fear public speaking itself, when most of us are genuinely afraid of making a mistake, of not being good, smart, or funny enough to be an opinion leader or to speak publicly,” says you. “Most of these beliefs come from our childhood. We accept them as part of our personality and label them as shyness or nervousness. Hypnotherapy is an amazing tool for getting to the bottom of these limiting beliefs, breaking them down and boosting your self-esteem.”