If you dread public speaking, you’re not alone. In fact, speech anxiety—also known as glossophobia—is the single most common phobia. However, strong presentation skills are crucial to your academic success and professional development.
While it might not be possible to fully eliminate your fear of public speaking, these three strategies will help you feel more confident on stage:
- Practice. This step is crucial, especially if you’re anxious about public speaking. Deliver your speech to a few trusted peers, or in front of a mirror or video camera if you prefer to rehearse alone. Practicing helps you memorize key points of your speech and also allows you to recognize things that you would change about your performance. Ask for feedback from your peers and be conscious of how well you use your space and engage with your audience. The more you practice, the more at ease you will feel—and appear—on the big day.
- Prepare. Create notecards or a few slides to guide your talking points, but don’t write out your speech word for word. Make sure that you know your key points just in case you encounter technological difficulties, and bring a backup version of your presentation on a flash drive or your laptop. It’s also a good idea to arrive early so that you have time to set up your equipment and give your speech one final run-through before your talk begins. Finally, dress for success! If you look and feel good, you’ll exude that confidence on stage.
- Positive Thinking. A few butterflies before a high-stakes presentation can be expected—even professional athletes still get nervous before big games! If you’ve taken the time to practice and prepare accordingly, be confident that you can deliver your speech just the way you have rehearsed it. Think of your nervousness as a sign of excitement and remember that your audience is eager to learn from you and excited to hear what you have to say. If you engage in positive thinking, you’re more likely to achieve a positive outcome. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you and trust in your ability to deliver your speech with confidence and poise.
Public speaking is an essential skill for all students and professionals, but it doesn’t come easily to everyone. Luckily, these strategies can help you reduce your public speaking anxiety and become a more effective and engaging speaker. If you take the time to practice and prepare beforehand—and exercise positive thinking on the day of your talk —then you’re on your way to delivering a successful presentation!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.