Say something or die trying

Seven tips for talking in front of large groups of people

Say something or die trying

See if this sounds familiar.

You’re about to get up in front of the class to give a presentation. You practiced in front of the mirror at home. You’ve got all your notes memorized. You know exactly what you want to say, and how you’re going to say it. You’re sooooo ready for this.

And then you get up there, and all your friends are watching and… what sound are you making? Are those even words? What are you even supposed to be talking about? Why is your face turning red? Is the world spinning? Panic, panic, panic, run!

There are very, very few people who are just naturally comfortable speaking to large groups of people. For most, it’s a skill you learn rather than something you’re born with. Here are seven tips to take the terror out of talking to big groups of people.

  1. Be presentable. Take a shower, wear something you feel comfortable which is appropriate for the occasion. Big secret: it’s not about them. It’s about you. Start building your confidence up early and you’ll feel more natural on stage.
  2. Practice and listen. Practice in front of a mirror — and listen to yourself! The biggest mistake people make in presentations is that they get nervous and start to speak quickly and quietly. Work on making your presentation sound natural, like you’re having a conversation. Which also means...
  3. Breathe. Remind yourself to relax. Breathe through your nose if you can, because it will help control your heartbeat and stop you feeling lightheaded or anxious.
  4. Be conversational! Break down the wall between you and the audience. Ask how they are and talk directly to them. You’re not talking to the president, you’re talking to people just like you.
  5. If you mispronounce some words or trip up in your speech, do not stop and say sorry! Keep going, try your best to smile and make eye contact. Don’t lose momentum. Confidence is a state of mind.
  6. Know your material! Especially if you’re nervous when speaking in front of groups, you do not want to be stumbling over facts. If you’re speaking about a subject you’re not confident about, try note cards… but remember not to stare at them the whole time!
  7. Practice! Practice with your parents. Practice with your friends. Just like playing an instrument or a sport, speaking in front of people is something that you get better at the more you do it. Start with people you’re comfortable with… and watch as your confidence grows.

Good luck, girls! And remember: we’ve ALL been there before!