- Understand that your trepidation is just normal stage fright. The fact is that most of what you’re worried about is imaginary, and even what’s real is likely being blown out of proportion by this perfectly normal reaction
2. Stop worrying about what might go wrong and think instead about how you can best prepare and deliver this speech; it’s not as if your life is on the line.
3. Constantly remind yourself that the fact you were asked to give this speech means that someone thinks you’re the right person to do it.
4. Give yourself a few mental pep talks during preparation, and again during the time between leaving home in the morning and arriving at the lectern on the day of the presentation.
5. Think about all the times you’ve met challenges with a feeling of trepidation and you’ll find that you’ve probably always surpassed your expectations. Giving a speech is not going to be any different.
6. Remember that most people’s fear about giving a speech stems from their own expectations, not the expectations of the audience; which, incidentally, are likely a lot lower than yours.
7. Also remember that all speakers, even the most accomplished you’ve ever heard, have had to overcome some level of fear.
8. Picture yourself having a really good time giving the talk. See yourself as relaxed and smiling. Positive visualization exercises are wonderful for mitigating the fear of giving a speech.
9. Remember that the audience wants you to succeed. They completely sympathize with you because the vast majority of them have the same fear of making a speech as you do.
10. Your best weapon against fear is preparation, so thoroughly prepare your speech. Plan and know your opening (the first minute or two) so well that you can be confident you’ll get through it no matter how nervous you feel. Getting through the first few sentences will have an unbelievably settling effect on you. Also plan and know exactly how you’re going to close the speech; this will let you finish on a high note.
11. Spend your time preparing rather than fretting, concentrate on your message and how you want to deliver it, think about what you want the audience to learn from your remarks, and stop worrying about yourself.
12. If you’re still very worried about your speech, make a list of all the things that could possibly go wrong. But instead of fretting about them, consider what the odds are on them happening. You’ll quickly realize that most of the things you think could go wrong very likely won’t, so why worry about them? But don’t stop there. Ask yourself what you’ll do if something does go awry. Then plan how you can best prevent that from happening. At this point it’s probably a good idea to throw away the list. But if you fall back into a state of despair, do it again. I guarantee you will get much more comfortable about the speech; even if it takes two or three sessions to get to that stage. An important by-product of this technique is that when on the rare occasion one of the things you were worrying about actually happens, you will, in effect, have rehearsed and prepared how to handle it.
13. Physical movement helps offset fear. While sitting at the head table or in the audience waiting your turn, and particularly as your time comes near, there are a few physical things you can do to help alleviate nervousness. You can take deep breaths. You can clench and unclench your fists. You can squeeze your knees together. You can wiggle your toes.
14. Once you begin to speak, just concentrate on what you’re saying and forget about the butterflies in your stomach, weak knees, clammy hands, or a dry throat. These feelings are so natural that if you don’t have at least a mild case of them you’ll probably not give your best performance. Even elite athletes and race horses get keyed up before an event. You’re no different.