Have you ever spoken before a group of people or a crowd? Everyone must have had their share of it whether it is in school, in your company, or in any other situation that calls for a presentation or public speaking. Looking back on the first time you ever spoke to an audience, the experience must have been unforgettable and dreadful. Well, they say it is a natural thing to feel that way.
Even if you are already a working professional, sometimes you cannot just get rid of fear every time you are asked to make a presentation before a team of professionals who are all ears on your speech. Then again, this is all but a natural feeling. As a response to such fear, some of us become anxious about the situation. According to experts, this is termed presentation anxiety.
Defining Presentation Anxiety
Presentation anxiety is a response or reaction to fear in speaking before a group of people. This condition is usually just short-term, something more of a panic attack which usually occurs right before starting a speech or presentation and during the entire process.
As mentioned earlier, this is a natural feeling of what they call “stage fright.” Sometimes, we need a dose of fear to put balance in our emotions. If called for to speak before an audience, a little amount of fear will keep the speaker from showing too much confidence. But allowing fear to creep in wholly is a different story.
The feeling of anxiety during a presentation may sometimes be referred to as nervousness, “stage fright”, speech anxiety, and “the jitters”. The anxious presenter becomes tensed and all jittery. The person has a tendency to produce a shaky voice, as well as shaky lips, hands, and knees.
Other manifestations would include sweating, stuttering, mumbling, and blushing. This feeling must be overcome eventually, especially if you foresee more presentations coming your way in your organization. As you progress in reading this article, you will learn some tips and techniques in overcoming anxiety. But you must first know the underlying factors that may cause you to be anxious in delivering a presentation.
Factors Affecting Presentation Anxiety
A very common factor for such feeling in a public speech is shyness or lack of confidence. This is usually the case for beginners and amateur presenters. If confidence is the issue in a person, many aspects of an effective speech are affected. Body language and gestures are limited and the voice quality is not satisfactory. Plus, the overall delivery is unimpressive. Another factor is the kind of audience or type of crowd.
If you speak before a board of directors, for example, a higher level of anxiety is felt. If the faces on the crowd are familiar, somehow nervousness is managed. Lack of preparation may also be a common factor. This is guaranteed to get your knees weak with nervousness unless you very well know how to fake confidence. For some people, lack of preparation is not much of a big factor if confidence level is good. However, for some, a poor presentation may be a possible outcome.
Overcoming Anxiousness in a Presentation
The first thing to address in conquering presentation anxiety and fear is to improve your confidence. Once this element is enhanced, usually things just fall into place. Confidence may be quite challenging to boost up, but baby steps in improving it will somehow create results.
When delivering a presentation, the voice tone has to be consistent all throughout the entire speech, even if there are times when you are unsure of what you say. This must also be accompanied by body gestures that manifest confidence.
A good number of rehearsals days before your presentation will minimize nervousness, too. A professional has to be prepared in everything. So, if you are asked to present a business review, for instance, research and preparation of visual materials should be ready prior to the presentation.
However, in rehearsing, it is not advisable to memorize what you will say. One good technique is to outline the main points of your presentation on an index card and the explanation has to be impromptu but organized.
A very good tip in doing a presentation is to keep it brief but direct. This way, you get rid of anxiousness easily and quickly, too. But in any form of presentation, being able to manage your fears should be learned to come out as a strong and confident professional.