Glossophobia. Sounds ominous. Fortunately, it is not contagious. But it’s quite annoying and can be paralyzing if you’re expected to speak in front of your church group, volunteer organization or at work.
Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking.
For those of you who’d rather endure a root canal than speak in front of any type of audience, here are a few tips that could make your next trip to the microphone more bearable.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to say, write it down. Read it out loud. How does it sound? Ask friends or family what they think. Take their suggestions and rewrite it. Then you have to decide what format works best for you. Does memorization work for you? If not, go with a script. Figure out what type of script. Can you work with bullet points or do you need the entire thing written down? During a commercial shoot I produced with a big Hollywood star (trust me, you know him), I figured he’s been in movies, he can remember an itty-bitty one-minute piece. So, I gave him a list of bullet points. To my surprise, he freaked. He wanted the entire minute written out longhand. I hit the floor with a Sharpie® and a white board and went to work on that script. Figure out what works best for you.
Then practice. They say practice makes perfect. And they are right. Practice in front of a mirror, or get someone to make a video of your masterpiece.
Still feeling nervous? Go to events and watch other speakers. If you see something you like – their style, their tone, their body language – steal it. I mean, re-purpose it! Make it your own.
Get to your big day early. Acclimate yourself with your surroundings to make yourself feel more comfortable. Then meet the folks in the audience. If you talk to them beforehand, you seem more approachable. And they may give you some tidbits to integrate into your speech. And remember, they came to hear you, so just give them your best.
Don’t forget to breathe. When you have the jitters, you tend to hold your breath. So please breathe to get some oxygen to your brain, and relax your body.
And above all, smile. Smiling can help you relax, give off a good vibe, and the audience can hear that smile in your voice. Then they’ll relax and enjoy, too!
Finally, work on pauses. When speakers are nervous, they tend to speed up their speech, talking way too fast. That 10-minute speech is now over in one minute. And nobody understood a thing you said. Slow down…pause. Pauses can also be used to emphasize certain points and help you sound more conversational.
Just remember, public speaking and casual conversation are similar. Both are done to entertain, inform, or persuade. You have casual conversations every day. Just take those conversations to the mic.
Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email email@example.com.