The first key to overcoming your fear is to know your subject matter. When you're presenting on a topic, you'll increase your confidence if you're well versed on the subject. The rule of thumb for a good presentation is that it takes 90 hours of preparation for one 60 minutes presentation. That may seem like a lot, but once you've spent that much time on your material, you'll know it inside and out.
Another key tip is to practice your presentations. Find a friend or two whom you're comfortable speaking to and present your material to them. Ask for feedback and make sure to listen to their critiques. Their advice will help you be better prepared for the real thing.
Finally, involve your audience in your presentation. Not only will it be more memorable for the listeners, but asking questions and expecting a response will take the focus off of you and allow you to compose yourself while the room is focused on the new speaker. You'll also feel more relaxed if others are engaged, as it will create a conversation that allows you to focus on someone else instead of your own performance.
If you're still nervous about the idea of public speaking, research local groups or community classes that focus on overcoming your fear of public speaking. Your local library may also be a good source for material on conquering your fears. Once you've mastered your anxiety, you'll be better able to give effective, memorable presentations.
In the Spotlight: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing by Janet Esposito
Fearless Speaking: Beat Your Anxiety, Build Your Confidence, Change Your Life by Gary Genard
The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking: Modern Techniques for Dynamic Communication by Dale Carnegie
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