Five tips to overcome your fear of public speaking

When you stand up and deliver a presentation, did you feel daunted, or are you one of the lucky few that thrive on the adrenaline?

Presenting is completely out of my comfort zone and nerves have sometimes got the better of me. But, I often present to sales teams or board members, so it's a skill I have had to learn.

Five tips to overcome your fear of public speaking

Most recently I attended a Presentation and Public Speaking Skills course which was both practical and engaging - I will certainly feel more prepared and confident walking into these situations in the future.

So, I thought I would share with you a few of my ‘takeaways’ from the course to help your presentations have more punch! Here we go:

#1 Don’t focus on your slides!

Having an overly long slide deck can have one of two consequences:

You end up reading from your slides, as does your audience. Often referred to as ‘death by PowerPoint’
Your ‘off-the-cuff’ speaking turns into a ramble, with no end in sight

Your slides should be a complimentary tool to your delivery. Use them as a guide or aide memoir to keep you on track.

#2 Don’t overdo the bullet points  

We don’t live our lives in bullet points. We live our lives in images and stories. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end – start planning on paper beforeyou even open PowerPoint, tell a story and engage your audiences’ emotions.

#3 Practice, practice, practice

Few people are naturally gifted presenters. These people are often incredibly successful leaders (take Barack Obama or Steve Jobs). Even then, if you read their autobiography you will see all of the hard work, effort and passion they have gone through to become great. There is no short cut to excellence.

#4 Embrace the fear

Fear is a useful thing - use it! See it as a warning that something important is coming up. Welcome it as a warning from you to you. Fear is telling you to be prepared and to practice. Listen to what fear is saying and then take action.

#5 The presentation is about you, not your slides

Without you, the presenter, your slide deck should be of no use to anyone. They should contain less, not more information. Your slides should be a means of keeping you on track and shouldn’t distract you or your audience. You want your audience to listen to you and digest what you have to say. After all, you are presenting to them!

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