While I wouldn’t say my fear of public speaking is on the same level of my fear of snakes, it’s next in line. I am terrified to speak in public, even when I know the material. Have you ever experienced those heart-racing, sweaty-palms, stomach-in-knots feelings? The fact that all eyes are on you to be the expert can be scary. How do you overcome those anxieties? Public speaking is often an inevitable part of work, and although I am nowhere near taking the stage at LinkedIn Talent Connect, I’ve started to become more comfortable with public speaking.

I realize that I cannot be the only one who has a fear of public speaking, but I understand the value of it as a skill, so I wanted to share my top five tips that have helped me get through work presentations. If you have any additional ones to add, please feel free to tweet @KRTweet or leave them in the comments!

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1. Practice makes perfect (or close to it!)

It’s nice when you can rehearse your presentation days (if not weeks) beforehand but it’s not always possible due to other work or personal commitments. When you do find the time to practice, remember these tips. First, don’t practice in your pajamas. Grab a colleague or your team and practice on them in the office. Sims Wyeth, an executive coach, business writer, author and speaker states, “rehearsal is the work, performance is the play, and rehearsing under performance-like pressure acclimates you to the demands of public speaking.” Also, the PowerPoint is your friend, but don’t read from it. PowerPoints should be visually guiding what it is you are speaking about. If you don’t have time to do a full rehearsal for your presentation, make sure you at least practice in front of a mirror.

2. Talk about your fears with someone

In my last presentation, I was very anxious because I didn’t have time to practice hours upon hours. However, speaking with my colleague about my fears and having her coach me by reassuring me that I knew what I was doing helped calm my fears. Fast Company Writer Harvey Deutschendorf shared, “colleagues can be a good source for advice if they have been in your situation before.” Listen to their advice and see how you can apply it to your own situation. Even those you are speaking to during the presentation can probably sympathize with you.

3. Don’t forget to breathe

Sometimes we rush through presentations due to nerves, but if you practice breathing and taking a few pauses throughout your presentation, you’ll feel better and your audience will understand you. “If you are prone to rushing through your speech or presentation, then practice breathing at every punctuation mark — it will force you to slow down.” In need of other tips for harnessing the power of breathing in order to speak with confidence and power? Check out “Breathing is the Key to Persuasive Public Speaking” from Harvard Business Review.

#PublicSpeaking tip: Don't forget to breathe! Read more. Click To Tweet

4. It’s part of growth

Have you heard the saying, “everything we want is on the other side of fear”?  It’s true! We want to develop new skills and master other ones, but how can we grow in our careers if we don’t step outside of our comfort zones? Public speaking may not be a challenge for some, but it’s one that many avoid because they hate it. However, public speaking is part of life not just work. From school projects to wedding toasts to networking, these situations all require some type of public speaking. Remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you’ll look back after a presentation and realize that it wasn’t so bad (I know I have!).

5. Don’t imagine the worst-case scenario

I know that sometimes I imagine the worst thing that could happen when I have to give a presentation. If I mess up, I can always stop and correct myself. Depending on the level and topic of the presentation, it’s good to remind yourself not to “sweat the small stuff.”

Bonus tip: “Realize that your job is to not know everything about your subject. Rather, it’s to be engaging and relevant.”

Everyone deals with public speaking differently, but if you are in need of more tips for overcoming public speaking anxiety, check out some recommendations from Stanford.  If you have any tips or best practices that work for you, leave them in the comments!

#PublicSpeaking doesn't have to be scary. Check out these tips. Click To Tweet