As I walked on stage to deliver a keynote speech at a marketing conference in Manchester last year, my hands were clammy, my heart was pounding, and my mouth became instantly dry. I stumbled over my first few sentences while avoiding eye contact with the hundreds of faces staring back at me. The fear of public speaking had taken over.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You're not alone. Surveys show over 75% of people experience some form of anxiety when presenting or speaking to an audience. But with the right techniques, you can move past the nerves and deliver a polished, engaging speech every time.
In this blog post, I'll share five professional tips to help you beat anxiety and give great speeches with confidence in Manchester or any venue. With a combination of thorough preparation, mental exercises, reframing your perspective, and practice, you can become an accomplished public speaker.
#1. Be Exceptionally Prepared
The number one rule is to know your speech material inside and out. Invest time researching your topic thoroughly to gain mastery over the subject matter. For presentations, carefully plan the structure with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
Practice delivering your speech as much as possible, at least five to ten times. The repetition will help polish your delivery, ensure your timing is right, and boost memorisation so you don't have to rely on notes. Focus on remembering key points and transitions rather than memorising a rigid script.
Arrive early on speech day to check out the venue, get comfortable on stage, and run through your content again. Exceptional preparation breeds confidence and the peace of mind that helps minimise anxiety.
#2. Visualise Yourself Succeeding
One of the best ways to boost confidence before public speaking is to visualise yourself delivering a successful speech. Picture yourself standing tall at the lectern, making smooth eye contact with the audience, and speaking slowly and clearly.
Hear the sound of your voice projecting confidently across the room. Visualise the audience nodding, engaged and impressed by your commanding presence and compelling message. Envision them applauding enthusiastically at the end.
This simple mental exercise primes your unconscious mind for public speaking success by programming it with positive images. Visualisation can make you feel more self-assured as you take the stage.
#3. Transform Nervousness into Excitement
It's perfectly normal to feel nervous before speaking in public. But you can take those nerves and transform them into positive excitement to deliver a passionate, energetic speech.
Recognise that anxiety means you care about doing a good job. Then reframe that nervous energy into feeling enthused about sharing your message. Take a few deep breaths and focus on feeling those butterflies fluttering in anticipation, instead of dread.
When harnessed in the right way, anxiety can give your speech extra dynamism and enthusiasm. The next time nerves creep up, remember they are there to help you, not hinder you.
#4. Focus Completely on Your Audience
One of the keys to overcoming fear and anxiety during public speaking is to shift your focus away from yourself and directly onto your audience. Convert any negative self-talk or worrying about judgment into concentrating fully on the people listening to you.
Make steady eye contact with various individuals. Read their body language and gauge reactions to adapt your speech accordingly. Picture yourself having a one-on-one conversation with attendees rather than lecturing to a group.
Preparing comprehensively allows you to focus less on trying to remember what comes next and instead devote mental energy to engaging your audience. Remember, you are there to serve them, not the other way around.
#5. Be Present in the Moment
In the final moments before you begin speaking, take three deep breaths and clear your mind of any distracting thoughts about the past or future. Bring yourself fully into the present moment.
As you start your speech, put conscious attention on delivering one sentence at a time. Don't think about how much time is left or judge your performance so far. Just concentrate on the words coming out of your mouth and connecting to the listeners in front of you.
Staying present increases your flexibility to adapt to the audience and minimises anxiety about future outcomes. If you feel nervousness creeping back as you speak, pause briefly and take another deep breath to refocus.
The more experience you gain public speaking, the more your fear and anxiety will dissipate. With time and practice, you may even start to enjoy being on stage! Remember, some of the world's most accomplished speakers once stood frozen behind a lectern just like you. But with the right techniques and mindset shifts, you can move past the nerves and shine.
To recap, here are five pro tips to beat anxiety and deliver outstanding speeches:
1. Be exceptionally prepared.
2. Visualise yourself succeeding.
3. Transform nervous energy into excitement.
4. Focus completely on your audience.
5. Be present in the moment.
Next time you have a presentation in Manchester, use these professional tips to smash your public speaking anxiety. Reach out for help with your public speaking anxiety today!