How to Be Great at Public Speaking (even when you are a nervous wreck)

Afraid of Public Speaking?


We fear ridicule.

We think that everyone will point and laugh.

We think we will forget what we are going to say.

We think we will look down and realize that we forgot to get dressed.


A few points to remember that WILL make you better at public speaking:

1) Prepare your information.

Over prepare. Outline, use notecards, Speaker’s Notes in Power Point, I write what I want to say in long hand.
Why? This helps me remember.
The goal is to know the material and “speak” to your audience.

This is NOT the same thing as reading your notes to your audience.


2) Remember: The audience wants you to succeed.

Honestly. They aren’t waiting around for you to fail. Your audience wants you to be comfortable, be informed, and give them the information you came to deliver.

Most of them are just sitting there being thankful that they aren’t having to do what you are doing! (And, some are thinking about what they need to get at the grocery store on the way home…)


3) Find one or two relaxation techniques and USE THEM.

Deep breaths. Visual images of giving a great speech. Positive sayings. Prayers. Listening to “your” music immediately before giving the speech.

When I first started public speaking, I would be so nervous that I would have to run cold water over my wrists and splash some on my face. It calmed me down enough to do it, and the more that I did public speaking, the more confident I became.

4) Remember past successes

Gave a presentation in front of a class, that counts. Presented training at work, that counts. Gave a Power Point presentation for the PTA, that counts. (**Seth Godin has excellent FREE resources for avoiding really bad Powerpoint.**)

Think back on any times that you’ve spoke in front of a group of any size (more than one or two people), and use that to build your confidence.

5) Keep at it

The BEST way to become great at public speaking is … keep putting yourself in that situation.

The good news is there are almost always groups that would love for someone to volunteer to come and give a presentation. And, when you get your momentum going, people will start asking you. Good public speakers are in short supply!



If you have tricks you use to help you overcome a fear of public speaking, I’d love for you to share in the comments!



Quick Reminder: Goodreads Giveaway for signed copy of Josephine: Red Dirt & Whiskey ends March 31. Enter!



 photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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4 Responses to How to Be Great at Public Speaking (even when you are a nervous wreck)

  1. theuglymoose says:

    You forgot the bit about drinking heavily before you get on stage.

  2. DM says:

    I’m always a very formal speaker. My husband is so relaxed in front of people. I wish I could be more like that, but it doesn’t seem to be my style.

  3. Pingback: 5 Things I’ve Learned from Book Two | melindamcguirewrites

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