If you have a fear of public speaking, you’re not alone. Research shows that 25 percent of people have this phobia. However, if you can’t overcome your fear of making a presentation in front of a group of people, you’ll miss a huge opportunity to share your ideas, present your solutions, and ultimately grow personally and professionally.
Outlined below are four simple steps for helping you overcome your fear of presenting in front of a group of people:
1. Consider the Big Picture
Before preparing your presentation, think about the overall story that you want to tell and how you want your audience to react. Knowing what you want your audience to take away from your presentation is essential, whether you’re preparing to speak in front of a group of 10 people or 1,000. Storytelling is one of the oldest and most effective ways to draw an audience in and help them to comprehend your overall message. A good story typically includes a conflict, the heroes, and the resolution. Use this arc as a baseline as you put your own story together.
2. Use Imagery
Imagery is a powerful way to enhance your storytelling; however, it’s important to remember that less is more. When putting a visual presentation together, aim to use no more than 10 images for a 30-minute presentation. As a best practice, leave off distracting text and use images that support your narrative.
3. Resist the Temptation to Pace on Stage
It’s not uncommon for public speakers to wander around while on stage. However, too much pacing will cause your audience to focus on where you are on the stage rather than listening and digesting the message that you have to share. When delivering each of your key points, it’s important to be still, slow down, and project your voice.
4. Avoid Using Index Cards
Public speakers set themselves up for failure when they use index cards as a prop. You’ll be much more effective and confident if you take the time to memorize the key points that you want to share with your audience. Of course, practice makes perfect, so give your presentation in front of a mirror or smaller audience before taking it to the stage.
Don’t let your fear of public speaking hold you back in your career. Mastering these best practices for presenting in front of a group of people will set you up for success when it comes time for your next presentation.