Struggling With Stage Fright? Here Are 12 Easy Tricks To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills!

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For most of us, public speaking is nothing but a nightmare. To be specific, three out of four people fear talking in front of a group. But you don’t have to worry too much about it or avoid speaking to a group for the rest of your life because psychologists have developed a host of easy interventions to help you impress at your next presentation. Here are 12 of them.

1. Make your speech all about your listeners.

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“The more emphasis you put on the listener, the less emphasis you will have on how you look, how you sound, etc.," notes coach and author Beverly Flaxington.

2. Mind your body language.

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Stand up straight, keep your head tall, and breathe deeply when you’re in front of a crowd. These little shifts in body language help you convey leadership and confidence.

3. Don't distract with slides.

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A 2010 study showed that when audiences listen to someone talking, the brain waves of the speaker and the audience begin to sync, boosting comprehension. Using too many slides interrupts this process.

4. Face your fear...in writing!

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It might sound terrifying, but one oft-recommended way to overcome a fear is to face it head on. How can you do that before you get up on stage? Write down the worst outcomes you can imagine. Are they really so bad?

5. Remember: They asked you to talk.

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You’re not up there out of ego and hubris, psychologists remind nervous speakers. You’re giving your talk because someone asked to hear your perspective or get your knowledge. They want you there.

6. Monitor your self-talk.

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If the voice in your head saying “You really can’t screw this up” or “You look nervous,” it isn’t really helping. Monitor your inner dialogue and talk back the thoughts that just ratchet up the pressure.

7. Visualize success.

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“Think about what you want to say, not what you don't want to say because when you try not to think or do something, it is often more likely to occur,” advises psychology professor Sian Beilock.

8. Rethink stress.

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"When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body's response to stress," claims Stanford’s Kelly McGonigal. Reframe stress as an adaptive response that helps you perform at your best.

9. Keep it brief.

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Studies show people start to tune out even the best presentations after 10 to 20 minutes, so if you have lots of material to cover, build in breaks to keep your audience’s attention.

10. Embrace your own style.

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Present genuinely. Introverts shouldn’t fake extroversion, and serious types need not crack jokes.

11. Give yourself a "cue word."

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If you lose focus, bring your attention to a "cue word” or image that reminds you of your overall goal, like recalling the twinkle in the eye of a speaker you admire.

12. Finesse the flaw.

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If you don’t overreact to every little misstep, your listeners won’t either. A simple “Let’s try that again,” or “Let’s pretend that didn’t happen,” conveys confidence and puts you and the audience on the same team.

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