Have you ever had that dream? You know, the one where you are standing in front of a room full of people and you realize you’re not wearing pants? According to a Chapman University study on fear, more than 25 percent of Americans fear speaking in public.
That’s more than heights, bugs and snakes, or drowning.
The thing is, fear of bugs and snakes is unlikely to be a career deal-breaker unless you have always wanted to work at a zoo. But, fear of public speaking is definitely going to hold you back. Whether you are a team leader, a subject-matter expert, or really any role that involves people, learning to stand up in front of a crowd and deliver a clear, confident message is essential to your long-term success.
Many people believe that being able to speak in public just comes with confidence — it’s something some people naturally know how to do. But, really, being able to communicate effectively, clearly, and confidently is simply a skill that comes with practice, and it’s something anyone can learn.
We’ve got four tips on how you can master your presentation mojo:
Tip 1: Join a Speaking Club
Toastmasters is one of the oldest and most respected clubs for people learning to speak in public, and it boasts thousands of local chapters in every geography.
Likewise, Speaker Sisterhood is an amazing organization that helps women become more confident speakers through local chapters, online learning, and more.
Tip 2: Take a Class
Most local colleges have classes in public speaking, which are designed to teach you the theory, give you opportunities to practice, and then provide feedback to help you improve.
If you’re more comfortable learning in a classroom setting, this can be a great option.
Tip 3: Volunteer to Lead Meetings
A great way to get your feet wet is to jump right in. Volunteer to lead meetings at work or at an organization where you spend time. Leading a meeting means that as the meeting moderator you will be in the spotlight to kick things off, and keep the program on track.
Tip 4: Watch TED Talks
Need some examples of great speakers? Check out some of the most popular TED talks. Not only will you see a variety of great speaking techniques, you’ll learn something you didn’t know.
Great ones include Amanda Palmer’s talk “The Art of Asking,” Simon Sinek’s talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” and, for sheer humor value, James Veitch’s talk “This is What Happens When You Reply to SPAM Email.”
Notice that each speaker has a different style, but all of them are incredibly effective at delivering a memorable message.
Most of us will rarely — if ever — be asked to stand in front of thousands of people and deliver a speech. But, every single day brings opportunities for you to express yourself, whether you’re speaking to just one person, or a small group.
Becoming confident at delivering a clear message will help you in a variety of ways. Who knows, your next promotion or new client could be just one presentation away.