Speaking in front of an audience can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s how to get over stage fright when public speaking.
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, public speaking is one of the most commonly held fears – more than fear of heights, insects, and flying. It’s not at all uncommon to feel nervous while public speaking, and it can be helpful to remind yourself that those feelings are completely normal.
The best way to combat stage fright when public speaking? Preparation! The more you prepare for your speech, the less you leave to chance. And ultimately, the “what ifs” are what most students are afraid of – “What if I forget a line? What if something goes wrong?” Preparing adequately for a speech will help to minimize these feelings and build confidence in your ability to speak effectively.
Public speaking guidelines are very helpful, but it’s also important to remember that everyone is different. As a result, we encourage students to focus on the areas that they feel are most concerning or could use the most improvement.
For instance, many students have no issues reading or speaking aloud. However, the main fear of public speaking comes from having to physically stand in front of their classmates. It’s very common to become “antsy” – or as one student adequately described, “I don’t know what to do with my hands!” For these types of students, recording multiple videos of yourself, as well as practicing in a mirror for live feedback, can help you to refine your body language “on stage.”
Other students have the opposite problem – they aren’t worried about physically standing in front of an audience, but rather about their ability to deliver the words without stuttering, running out of breath, or speaking too fast (or too slow). For these types of students, it can be extremely helpful to do several audio recordings of yourself reciting the speech beforehand. Many teachers will have a time limit for classroom presentations, so this is something we recommend doing either way. For students who are concerned about their pacing, this is an extremely helpful way to prepare!
Ultimately, public speaking is a very individual thing. For students who are naturally more reserved or soft-spoken, remember that your speech will be excellent as long as you are clear and confident in your words! Other students like to display a lot of energy when speaking, and may even use the space around them to move around as part of their speech. Both styles are equally effective! The important thing is to find a manner of public speaking that aligns with your personality and will allow you to feel comfortable in front of an audience.