by Linda Rosenblum
Public speaking scares me more than almost anything in this world. Standing in front of a room filled with people staring at me with blank eyes while I stammer on about a random topic literally makes me want to crawl in a hole and never come out. I fear their deadpan expressions; I fear their equivocal silence. But most importantly, I fear their judgment. My anxiety lies in a panic that my listeners are having negative thoughts about me. However, I know that this fear is irrational and that public speaking is completely unavoidable. Additionally, I realize that having good verbal communication skills is absolutely essential to succeeding in the professional world. Therefore, I looked towards Robyn's teachings for advice in order to create a better presence for myself in front of an audience. By implementing these simple techniques, I find it much easier to speak in public settings.
If you have found yourself in the same position, constantly afraid of others’ judgment but willing to make a change, follow these five simple tips:
- First impressions come first: With a persuasive and engaging vocal tone, you are sure to make a great impact on your audience. Try working on how you are perceived by others in order to minimize the stress of speaking in front of a crowd. Improve your voice, gestures, and posture, to create a more persuasive persona. This will help you be more confident and less anxious!
- Lose the up-speak: People have the tendency to speak "up" towards the end of their sentences (think of teenagers ending their sentences as questions). By doing this, we project to our audience that we are unsure of the points that we are presenting. If you want to avoid being judged by your listeners, make firm claims and refrain from turning them into uncertainties. Focus on the non-verbal cues you're projecting: Avoid looking stiff . Try standing with your knees slightly bent and arms loosely at your sides. Present yourself with confidence, and the self-consciousness will disappear!
- Don't be afraid to gesture: Using body movements and hand gestures can help to enhance your speech. It will create a conversational feel and will allow you to feel more comfortable in your own skin. By building a nonverbal relationship with your audience, you'll feel less open to judgments and negativity.
- Avert your eyes: We're always told to make eye contact with our listeners. However, if you're afraid of the judgment that lies behind the eyes of your audience, try gazing slightly above their eyes and at their foreheads. It will make you feel more comfortable by not having their responses directly impact you.