Did you know that more people fear public speaking than death?

Public speaking anxiety is the most common of all phobias. Most people are concerned their nervousness will be obvious, they might forget their thoughts, stumble on their words, or even have a panic attack. Remember, these are all common and normal reactions that most speakers have.

To escape these unnerving feelings of butterflies and sweaty palms, some people avoid public speaking altogether. However, the more you practice public speaking, the easier it becomes!

Follow these simple steps for success:

1. The practice is the key to success.
• Know your subject well and how you will present your material.
• Don’t leave your rehearsal to a day or two before your presentation.
• Record your practices. Seeing and hearing your presentation allows you to make changes while you still have time.
• Rehearse in front of a trusted friend, teacher, or family member who will give you honest feedback.

2. Learn to breathe correctly.
• Theatre performers and singers use deep breathing exercise regularly.
• Sit upright and avoid lying down or slouching, because it can increase the capacity of your lungs to fill with air.
• Take smooth, slow, and regular breaths. Breathe in for a count of four through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
• Repeat this exercise 5-6 times per minute.

3. Visualize your success.
• Close your eyes and imagine yourself presenting your speech successfully. See the audience reacting positively to your words, clapping, and acknowledging your speech with admiration and support.
• Tell yourself repeatedly that you are going to succeed.

4. Focus on your audience, not yourself.
• When presenting, don’t think about how nervous you feel or how you are coming across. Instead, consider your audience’s reaction. Are they getting your message? Are they responding with positive nods? Do you need to stress certain facts or review key points?

5. Start with small presentations.
• Whenever possible, start with a short, easy presentation. Using baby steps will build your confidence.
• Look for opportunities in a classroom or at work to provide information that others would benefit from.

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