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Fear of Public Speaking

Presentations can be nerve-wracking for lots of students, but it is a skill you can develop with practice. Roughly 75% of all people experience some degree of anxiety when it comes to public speaking. So the first thing to remember is that your fear is totally normal.


Common errors

Talking too quickly:

It’s tempting to want to get it over as soon as possible but try to pace yourself. The audience may not hear you properly if you rush through which will affect their (and your) enjoyment of the speech.



Avoiding eye contact:

This may seem tempting too as who wants to look at a room full of blank faces? Remember that audiences are passive listeners and react differently than people do in normal conversational mode. Look around next time you’re in an audience! Avoiding eye contact is not good as you won’t connect with the audience or notice any positive reactions. You will focus only on your own thoughts (which are probably negative)


Reading from a script:

Forgetting what you’re talking about, and being embarrassed on stage, is probably the biggest fear.However, if you read from a script, you’ll have no connection with the audience and if you lose your place, you’ll panic. Similarly if you memorise it and then forget a line, you may not know what to say next. Bullet points are better and will give your speech a more authentic feel.


Solutions

Videos

The skill of self-confidence by Dr Ivan Joseph

How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking by Danish Dhamani






Virtual reality training

Try this free VR training app called Virtual Speech. Your brain cannot tell the difference between a real life experience and a virtual reality experience. So you can practice using virtual reality whilst your brain thinks you are practicing in real life. This lets you overcome a fear or phobia by practicing in a safe environment.


Pronunciation

Howjsay is a talking dictionary of English pronunciation using authentic sounds. It allows you to easily check how words sound so may be helpful if you are giving a presentation and need to use some words that you have only ever seen in print.


General Tips

1. Preparation is key, and it can also help to control the nerves - you can never over-prepare.

2 .Be clear on the aims

3. Remember the structure: oral presentations usually have three main sections:

· The introduction: (what you intend to say)

· The body (the presentation itself)

· Conclusions (what you have said)

4. How much time is available? Be realistic and time yourself

5. Know the subject thoroughly. Think about what questions the audience might ask. If you are familiar with the subject, you will feel more comfortable with it.

6. Rehearse as much as you can. Practice really does make perfect. Can a friend or tutor give you constructive feedback?

7. If you get nervous, take deep breaths – you can do this before and during your presentation






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