The fear of public speaking is routinely cited as the most common phobia. It’s normal to be nervous before getting in front of a crowd. Here’s a secret: Most people aren’t born with a natural gift for fearless public speaking—they practice and practice until they master their nervousness. As a business student at Grand Canyon University, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your own oratory skills in order to conduct business and exchange information with a group. A proficiency in public speaking is an excellent skill to bring to the job market once you graduate.
Practice Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness is the art of being fully in the present. The mindful individual devotes their full attention to what he or she hears, sees, smells and tastes. This might not seem to be very relevant to public speaking, but bear in mind that many fears are of the unknown. A nervous public speaker may be anticipating an unreceptive audience. He or she might worry about forgetting what to say, or about not being able to use body language and gesticulation to take command of the stage. These fears are all based on problems that haven’t happened yet, and may never happen. But if you dwell on them, they can indeed sabotage you. Make the effort to practice mindfulness every day so that when you do stand in front of a crowd to speak, mindfulness is second nature to you.
Be Organized and Prepared
Contrary to popular belief, there are a few instances in which it’s acceptable and even expected to read directly from a paper. Delivering a eulogy is one example. But if you’re preparing to give a lengthy talk in an academic setting or perhaps a brief presentation in a corporate conference room, it’s definitely better to be prepared with an outline instead of a full draft. Before you walk into that room, you should:
- Have a firm grasp of your topic
- Know the main points and the order in which you’ll discuss them
- Have prepared visual aids, as appropriate
Although you don’t need to memorize the entire speech, it’s a good idea to have at least the first few sentences memorized. This will get you off to a good start and help build your confidence.
Practice Speaking More Slowly
No matter how quickly or slowly you usually speak in everyday conversations, it’s probable that you’ll find yourself rushing through your words when you’re up in front of a crowd. This is natural. Novice public speakers who are nervous and anxious are working hard at remembering everything they’re supposed to be saying. And at the same time, they’re trying to say it as quickly as possible so they can get out of the limelight. Make a conscious effort to speak more slowly in everyday conversation, and remind yourself to slow down when you’re in front of a group. Remember that it’s alright to pause briefly between sentences and between ideas. Audiences expect this and even prefer it because it gives them time to process what has been said.
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About Colangelo College of Business
Business Buzz is a blog that features content written by faculty, staff and students from Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business. In addition to profiles about events, students and faculty on campus, you’ll also find insight and perspective on the ever-changing business discipline and current global business topics. Learn about the modern business landscape, and how business today continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of organizations and consumers in the 21st century. Check in every week for the latest news from the business community and around GCU.