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If you have to give a presentation and realize you have cold feet, know that you’re not alone—after all, it’s the most common public speaking fear. Speaking in front of a group is a challenging art, and it’s seldom as simple as imagining people in their underwear and “just winging it.” Whether you have to defend your thesis or tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect fit for their company, these public speaking tips will help you own the room.
It’s apparent when even a talented public speaker isn’t allowing their personality to shine through; their address either seems robotic or hurried. Don’t be afraid to just “do you.” If you need to take a pause, go ahead and do so. If you’re known to crack jokes every now and then, find a way to work one into your presentation. Being unapologetically you will attract the audience to what you have to say.
Know Your Audience and the Speaking Area
Are you speaking to a group of prospective college students about your past experiences, or are you showing your class and professor that you have a wealth of knowledge in today’s current events? The audience’s demographic should tell you exactly how you should conduct your speech. You should also craft your presentation to ensure your audience takes something valuable away from it.
Furthermore, familiarizing yourself with the speaking area can assist you in your preparation. If you walk around the space the day before your presentation, you’re sure to feel more comfortable.
Make the Most of Visual Aids
Visual aids, such as PowerPoints and videos, are fun to put together, but they’re only meant to complement your words—not control them. Craft an aid that supports what you’re saying and helps you (and everybody else) navigate your presentation.
Put in the Time
Mistakes can happen, even if you practice. But the more you practice, the less nervous you’ll be (and the better you’ll be able to handle any bobbles). Present your speech in front of your roommate, a friend, or a family member. Their feedback can help you fine tune the details. You can also practice in front of a mirror. This helps you evaluate your body language and vocal tone. With enough practice, you’ll be able to ditch your notes and perfect your delivery. While it might be scary to go without notes, their absence lets you engage the audience in a more meaningful way.