If you feel anxious before giving presentations, if you get sweaty and shaky hands when giving speeches, or if you feel you could improve your presentations even though you manage to get through them, this post is for you!
You are not alone
A while ago a person asked me to help them find resources for getting over stage fright and improving presentation skills. Since I believe this is a problem for most (if not all) of us in some shape or form I thought this would be an excellent topic for a post!
In my opinion, one cause for the problem is the impostor syndrome. We all have moments, where we doubt ourselves and our expertise. Knowing that as a fact doesn’t necessarily cure our insecurities, but it helps us to be kinder to ourselves. I personally found this TED talk by Mike Cannon-Brookes helpful. The message is clear: no matter how successful someone is, they still might suffer from the impostor syndrome.
Now, that we understand that you, me, or anyone else is not alone with this problem, how do we get more confident and relaxed performers?
I’m sure you already know this, but I think it needs to be said. It requires practice. That’s the harsh reality. But, lucky for us, there are tons of resources online to help get started!
Online resources for improving your public speaking
There are both paid and free courses online (you can e.g. check Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn). I would recommend choosing a course where you have live sessions. You obviously can google some tips for public speaking but being able to practice with someone in a “safe” and non-judgmental environment is what we all need. Additionally, you can check Toastmasters. https://www.toastmasters.org/ They concentrate on getting better at giving speeches and are a go-to place for many who want to improve their presentation skills.
Then there is practicing in real-life. Some people like to start practicing in front of their family members and friends, but to others that’s somewhat awkward. You could start a practice group of your own if you don’t want to join Toastmasters or other existing groups. I bet it is easy to find others who would appreciate a chance to get constructive feedback. In addition, this could be a great way to network! If you want to learn more about networking, check out this post on this very blog!
I also know that some people start a YouTube channel to practice this. It’s obviously not the same as giving a speech in front of a live audience, but it is an option to consider. The pros are that you can plan your videos and seeing yourself will help you notice needs for improvement. In addition, filming yourself is great because you can clearly see yourself improve over time if you stick to this. However, the con is the audience. Unfortunately, people don’t always behave nicely on the Internet. While you can find thousands of supportive people online, there is the possibility that you come across a person who is mean. I don’t say that this should stop you, but it is important to acknowledge that.
Search words for finding online courses for public speaking
When searching for the best courses for you, try search words like
- public speaking
- speech writing
- presentation skills
You are helping your audience
Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I heard this, but without a doubt, one of the best advices I’ve heard is that you should always think how the performance or speech is helping your audience. Do not concentrate on yourself. Instead, concentrate on helping your audience. This way it gets a whole lot easier to first prepare for the speech, and then to give it. You’ll have a clear goal, and you want to execute your plan well.
Don’t let stage fright to stop you!
I personally suffer from stage fright, but I don’t let it stop me from doing things. I know people who have let this stop them from getting another degree or applying for a dream job -just because they do not believe they could give the presentations needed in those situations.
A way to feel more comfortable in front of an audience is to be prepared. Planning, speech writing training, rehearsing, etc… They all increase your confidence and they can be learned online!
Have fun learning!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am writing from my own experience as an online learner and from my own point of view. The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and therefore subjective.