The ability to speak in front of others is an extremely valuable skill to have and you may be called upon at any point in your career to perform public speaking. This could be performed in a variety of ways such as presenting a project to your colleagues, chairing a meeting (either informal or formal), speaking at a conference or hosting a webinar.
The ability to speak confidently and effectively in front of an audience, whether they are a familiar audience or not, can really set you apart from others and can move you up the professional ladder because to really engage with an audience is an excellent skill to have and one that is truly admired and even envied.
However, for most people, the thought of speaking in public can be rather nerve wracking and anxiety provoking, even with people you know. It is natural to feel self conscious to a degree but luckily there are steps you can take to counteract the anxiety and to deliver a successful presentation.
You must prepare thoroughly. Rehearse what you are going to say or present to people and if you are planning to read from a script, you must ensure that all amendments have been made so that you are happy with it.
Become aware of your breathing. This may sound unimportant but deep and controlled breathing can help calm your nerves and slow a rapid heart rate and is similar to the techniques used in mindfulness. Research breathing techniques and it will help you to stay calm and focused on the day of your public speaking.
Visualise a successful presentation and think positive thoughts. The only person who will be aware of your nervousness will be yourself. Your audience will be blissfully unaware and they are only focused on the words or presentation being given to them. Even if you make a small error, it is highly probable that no one will notice.
Dress the part. By dressing formally or by wearing a certain piece of smart clothing, it can help you feel professional and give you a certain air of confidence and immediately elevates your self esteem.
Once you have successfully got through your first public speaking role, you will undoubtedly feel extremely proud of yourself and your confidence will increase tenfold! You will find that the more you speak in front of people then the easier it becomes.
Finally, engage with your audience as much as you can if possible by inviting them to make comments, ask questions or take part in the presentation some other way. Not only does this involve the audience which makes the atmosphere less formal and intimidating but it takes the whole focus of yourself which can feel quite daunting. This is a technique that I have often used myself and it has never failed.