7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

public-speakingPublic speaking is well-known as one of the most common fears out there. Even people who are confident in their public speaking skills find themselves anxiously pacing before their big speech.

Public speaking will never be a nerves-free affair, but you can have a successful experience by following these seven tips!

1. Remember Past Praise
It might sound conceited, but one of the easiest ways to find your self-confidence before putting on a speech is to remind yourself that you have done great things. Did a date ever laugh at your joke, or maybe you aced a presentation in high school? Think back on what those moments felt like. If you remember these positive experiences before doing any public speaking, the good energy will help you to sound more natural and at ease, according to Presentation Training Institute. Give it a try!

2. Talk to a Virtual Audience or a Dog
Anxiety is a big problem when it comes to public speaking, but there are easy ways to practice facing anxiety.

Recently, virtual reality used in so-called exposure therapy has been proven to be a safe way for anxious individuals to face their anxiety. Using a free virtual reality app to create an audience you can practice your speech in front of.

If you prefer something living, gather up your canine or feline friends and put on your speech for your animals!

3. Join Toastmasters International
One of the best ways to get better at public speaking is to do more public speaking. Toastmasters International was created to help people improve their communication skills and joining will help you do so. Not only can you learn how to make a better speech with their program, you can also learning from other people’s mistakes. Find a virtual club or your local chapter to get started.

4. Journal Your Worries
Often, failure is rooted in the worries that we obsess over. Don’t let negative self-talk lead you to second guessing. It’s natural to have worries, but instead of letting them become your undoing, try to journal them away.

Grab a piece of paper, sit down and think about what you fear. What is it that is causing you doubt? Write it out. As you do, think about the ways that you can address each fear. The first step to overcoming negative worries is to acknowledge them! If you know what your fears are, you can prepare for them.

5. Know the Location & Audience
Part of the fear that accompanies public speaking is the fear of the unknown. Who will be watching me? What will the room look like?

Visit the location where you will speak beforehand or look it up online. When you practice speaking, visualize yourself in this room and imagine it filled with many people to avoid surprise on the day of the actual speech. Imagery can do wonders for comforting your mind. The more familiar you make an experience, the more at ease you will be in the moment. That will be the key to your success!

6. Don’t Speak At Your Audience
One mistake many make is this: they don’t pay attention to the audience. They read their speech, looking up occasionally, but they do not adapt to the audiences’ reactions or truly connect with them.

Marjorie North of Harvard has two great tips for how to avoid this. First, try not to read your speech from a script. It’s okay to memorize your speech, but if you read every word from paper, you will have a hard time engaging, and your audience will feel this. Second, remember to be flexible. If the audience responds well to one point you make, highlight similar points more strongly. Pay attention to how the audience is taking your speech, and use the visual cues they are giving you to your advantage!

7. Practice, But Don’t Expect Perfection
The most cliché advice of all is still great advice: you have to practice. The more time you put into practicing, the more comfortable you will be with the idea of public speaking. Do not, however, allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking that practice makes perfection. No speech will be perfect. Do not expect perfection. Practice, and then, let your speech be what it will be!