Whether or not 10,000 hours of public speaking would actually make you an expert, It definitely wouldn’t hurt. Chances are, you’re never going to get that kind of experience. That’s okay. Most of us will never get that much experience doing anything. If public speaking makes you anxious, here a few ways you can overcome your fears and be a better speaker.
Practice, practice, practice: With just about any skill, practice makes perfect. Practice alone may not be the cure-all for public speaking anxiety, but it’s definitely something you need to take seriously. You should always practice your speech over and over until you flow from one talking point to the next as easily as putting one foot in front of the other to walk down the street. If you’re using slides, know them like the back of your hand. Be able to anticipate transitions and eliminate any surprises.
Breathe: Everyone knows breathing has a calming effect. If you’re nervous about speaking, this is exactly what you need. Take a few deep breaths, do some light stretching, or even go for a short stroll to get your blood flowing.
Don’t go off book: If you’ve practiced well, then your material is ready. Adding or changing anything on the spot could make you flustered and confused. Once your train of thought has left the station, it may be hard to catch.
Be organized: If you’re using note cards, double check before you step up to speak and make sure you’ve put your notes in order. Just in case, put small numbers in the bottom corners so you can easily find your place without looking confused and lost.
Pause: When it’s go time, you’ll be prepared. If you feel any anxiety creeping up on you, throw in some pauses. Pausing will help you regain your composure and may even improve your speech. Pauses can help you with the pace of your delivery, help convey emotion, and can even help your audience better understand the message you’re conveying.