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How to Overcome Nervousness and Speak with Confidence

A few years ago, a survey was carried out in America to find out the 10 things that people feared the most. Most people would have expected death to be at number 1. But no. It was the fear of speaking in public.

It is important to realise that everyone, no matter how experienced a speaker he/she may be, feels a certain amount of apprehension when standing up to speak. Yet, this can be a good thing, and helps to add an edge to a presentation. The extra adrenaline helps you think faster and speak more fluently and with greater intensity than under normal circumstances.

However, too much nervousness can cause problems and prevent you from becoming a good speaker. You must learn to control and harness it to our advantage.

The following are some tips to help you do this:

1. Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Preparation is probably your most important ally in overcoming nervousness. Perfect preparation will melt away fear. Abraham Lincoln once said: "I believe that I shall never be old enough to speak without embarrassment when I am not properly prepared." Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.

2. Positive Thinking - Visualisation: Confidence starts in the mind. Think confident and you will act confident. Act confident and you will begin to feel confident and as a result speak with confidence. Always visualise yourself making your presentation with confidence and impact. This will help ensure success.

3. Enthusiasm and Gestures: Have you ever observed a person speaking on a topic about which he feels passionately. He loses himself in his subject and uses his hands and arms to help get his message across. Be enthusiastic about your subject. Lose yourself in your topic and all self-consciousness will disappear. Gestures add power and vitality to your words and will help to channel nervousness so that it works for you and not against you.

4. Eye Contact: Most fear is caused by the unknown. When you look at your audience, they become a known quantity. You will see that they are ordinary mortals like yourself and that most of them are interested in your message. This will give you encouragement and will help you form a positive relationship with them.

5. Relaxation: Practise relaxation exercises before you walk up to make your presentation. Deep breathing is particularly helpful. It is a wonderful means to ease tension and prepare you for your talk.

So don't allow nervousness hold you back. Harness and transform it into enthusiasm and vitality so that it becomes your ally towards perfect presentation.

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