The best way to improve your public speaking abilities is to practice. The more often you speak in public, the more confident you are likely to be the next time you have to do it. Practice
There are, however, no guarantees that the nervousness you feel before speaking or performing in public will ever go, although you will definitely improve. You could also practice in front of a mirror, again and again.
Don't try and speak impromptu, unless you have done so before and are
skilled at it. Make sure you are well prepared with what you have to
say, so you don't stumble too much. Churchill, who was an excellent
orator, would practice
his speeches for hours in front of a mirror - and would rehearse every
single pause, and every single time he would stop and take a sip of
water. Practicing in front of a mirror will make you more confident as
to the contents of your speech, and that will be one less thing for you
to worry about. However, this will not take care of the core issue of
nervousness when you are facing an audience. The only thing that can
help with this is practice in front of an audience.
Understand and accept that it is perfectly normal to feel nervous before making a speech in public.
Almost everyone feels nervous - some less than others, but they have
conquered their fears and are now out there, giving it their best shot.
Where will you be making your speech or giving your
presentation. Visit the venue in advance if possible, so you can
familiarize yourself with the room. Seeing the size of the room will
help you be mentally prepared and aware of the number of people that
will be present. After all, if you expect to speak in front of 20
people, and suddenly find yourself facing an audience of 500, it can be
extremely nerve-racking. You should therefore also try to find out the
estimated number of people expected to attend the talk.
Realise that everyone in the audience are on your side. That's
right. If you stumble, they would all, consciously or sub-consciously,
hope for you to recover your wits and continue with your talk.
No matter what your talk is about, try and inject a bit of
humour in it. You don't need to worry about whether or not your jokes
are very funny, unless you are a stand-up comedian. Even slightly witty
or funny statements provoke reactions and smiles in the audience, which
is what you want.
Think about the fact that giving a speech should
technically be really very easy. Stupendous performances are not
expected. It would be nice if the speech is entertaining, but this also
not expected. In fact, many speeches tend to be a little boring, and
audiences expect this. So a little entertainment is also greatly
appreciated. You can also refer to notes written to yourself, or you
can write the entire speech and keep referring to sections. There are
no rules, except for the fact that you need to keep yourself from
losing your nerve. And in the case of public speaking more than anything else, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
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