17 Painless Pointers To Plan, Prepare & Practice For Public Speaking even if you’re scared to death

Copyright 2006 Deborah Torres Patel

Many people get jitters in public. However, as Lilly Walters author of Secrets of Successful Speakers says, 75% of fear can be reduced by practice and preparation, 15% by deep breathing, and 10% by mental preparation and focus.

Preparing thoroughly using these virtually painless tips as a guide will help you to alleviate unnecessary stress and ultimately provide a consistent structure for achieving extraordinary results each and every time.

1. Plan ahead – If you use power point, create templates in advance. The latest possible time to begin a presentation is when notified. (Leaving things until the last minute can stress anybody out!)

2. Organize your presentation with a strong opening and closing because first and last impressions are remembered most.

3. Customize for your audience – go to websites first. Then interview relevant people to find out where the “pain” is in relation to your product, service, or topic. Asking better questions equates to you delivering better value.

4. When your content is ready, begin practicing aloud and on your feet. Pay special attention to your beginning, key points, and ending. During this process, you will inevitably make revisions and improvements which will fine tune your presentation.

5. After rehearsing aloud several times, record yourself on audio or video.

6. Watch or listen to your practice sessions and make adjustments until you are comfortable with your content and delivery. (Try not to compare yourself to others. Simply focus on getting better than the last time.)

The Day Of Your Presentation:

7. Start with a good physical workout in the morning to give you energy and focus for the day.

8. Do self-massage and vocal warm ups in the shower. Massage your scalp, the base of your tongue, the temporal mandibular joints (just by your ears between your cheeks and jaw), neck and shoulders. Make funny faces to exercise facial muscles, do your favorite tongue twisters and sing an uplifting song. (If you are at all self conscious remember that in the shower usually no one is watching or listening and the acoustics are great.)

9. Before and during your presentation, drinks should be not too hot or too cold because your vocal cords function best at body temperature. Also stay away from carbonated drinks because they often will cause you to burp. (embarrassing & uncomfortable)

10. Avoid combining protein and starch in the same meal and only eat fruit on an empty stomach. These simple food combining rules will aid efficient digestion and pave the way for peak performance.

11. Run through your presentation physically if you have the time.

12. Arrive early. Set up well in advance. Test and double-check all equipment.

13. Own the room imagining your energy fills the entire space extending to all walls and corners. State your intention aloud four times facing a different wall or direction each time. (i.e. “to win the business”, “to motivate my team to action” etc) If circumstances don’t allow you to state your intention out loud, think it.

14. Next go inward by closing your eyes. In your mind’s eye, imagine a person, place, or thing that you love. If you are religious or spiritual, you may want to connect with your higher power. Allow six or more deep breaths. Breathe in love on the inhale and on the exhale, let go of any tension, anxiety, or stress.

15. With your eyes still closed, mentally run through your presentation. Visualize success seeing your desired outcome. (much like an athlete preparing to win a competition)

16. Play a fast piece of music you love, dance, or walk briskly around the presentation room to pump yourself up and burn excess adrenaline. If it’s not possible for you to do this, run in place or jump up and down for 20-30 seconds somewhere private. If neither is possible, do simple isometric exercises, tensing and releasing muscles while sitting or standing. (This is a great way to channel your nervous energy into excitement and enthusiasm.)

17. Acknowledge yourself for the time and energy you have invested to do your best. Frankly, by employing any of the tips in this article, your next presentation will improve. Finally, just trust and BE yourself. (And have some fun!)