9 Tips To Stop Hating Public Speaking And Start Getting Better At It

No. 2 is so key.

Your hands start shaking. Your heart starts pounding. You're sweating. All eyes are on you. And then you're supposed to confidently say what you need to say? No wonder so many people are terrified of public speaking

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Whether you're at an event, in an important meeting, or trying to explain why you'd be the best fit for the job, effectively speaking in front of a group of people is a valuable skill to have. It may come up in areas of your life outside of work, too, such as when you're asked to give a toast during a friend's wedding. 

Despite how anxiety-inducing it may seem now, you can get better at public speaking. It isn't about talent. It's about skill — and skills you can learn. 

We've gathered a few tips to help you shake some of those nerves and feel a little more confident next time you have to take the literal or figurative mic. 

1. Remember that it's OK to feel nervous.

If the thought of public speaking makes you want to hurl, you're definitely not alone. Everyone gets nervous before giving a speech or presentation — even the most experienced speakers. They're just better at it because they've learned to control their nerves and push through. 

Because public speaking can be so nerve-wracking, keep in mind that your audience will likely be empathetic. They want to see you succeed. 

It's comforting to know that you're not alone and that the audience is rooting for you, but it's also important you directly address your anxieties. Write down the reasons why public speaking makes you so nervous. Then address those concerns. For example, if you're worried what you say won't make sense, perform your speech in front of a loved one and ask for feedback. Or, if you're worried you'll forget your speech, spend extra time practicing. 

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

The more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel when it's time to speak in front of your audience. Some people like to put off doing the things that stress them out until the last minute. Don't be that person. 

Prepare early. Start by familiarizing yourself with the topic as much as possible. Do research. Organize your content and ideas. Be thorough.

3. Structure your material.

You want your material to have an effective flow. Outline your topic by writing down the purpose, central idea, and your main points. Your speech should have three sections: an opening, middle, and closing. 

Your opening should start with an "attention grabber." Connect with your audience. Hook them from the beginning. Some great ways to do that is by stating a shocking statistic or fact, asking a thought-provoking question, or telling an engaging story. 

Be sure to also end your speech with a strong statement that your audience is sure to remember.

Once you're done writing, go through and edit your speech several times. Ask yourself questions like, "is there a better way to say what I mean," "will my audience be interested in this detail," and "does this relate back to my central idea?" 

4. Practice and then practice some more.

Whenever you get a spare moment in the days leading up to your speech, take some time to practice. Practice is the key to giving an effective speech. You'll be way less nervous if you're extremely comfortable with the material than if you just know it somewhat. Perform the entire thing several times and note which parts you're struggling with. Then, work specifically on those areas. 

When you get on stage, you want to feel extremely confident that you know your material. The only way to do that is to practice. 

5. Watch yourself in the mirror as you give the speech.

Remember that nonverbal communication carries messages too. Watching yourself deliver the speech will allow you to better assess your body language, hand gestures, and facial expressions. It'll also give you a chance to practice making eye contact. 

You can even go the extra mile and film yourself, so that you can study your mannerisms more closely. 

6. Be yourself.

Public speaking is difficult enough without having to add too much acting to the mix. Be yourself and let your personality shine through. It'll be more comfortable for you and your audience will more easily connect with you.

Many people make the mistake of writing their speeches so that they "sound smarter," adding tons of words they've never used before. Don't go overboard on your thesaurus usage. Instead, focus on making sure your points are clear, accurate, and concise. 

7. Wear clothes that you feel confident in.

You want to feel comfortable and confident on the day of your speech. If you feel good about your outfit, you can spend more time focusing on your material. Plus, you won't distract your audience by fidgeting with your clothes, hair, or makeup while on stage. 

8. Practice self-care on the day of your speech.

Get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast. Clear your head. Do some deep breathing exercises and some meditation. 

You might also want to get a workout in. Exercise helps to ease stress and anxiety, putting you more at ease when it's time to publicly speak. 

9. Take every opportunity you can get to speak in public.

The best way to get better at public speaking is through experience. Rehearsing is helpful, but actually doing it is even better. Talk during meetings, raise your hand more often in class, or even organize a small event to teach others about a topic. Better yet, take an improv class. It'll help you become more comfortable with being on stage and thinking on your feet. 

Cover image via  Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com 

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