Doubts, uncertainty dominates your mind, already weeks, months in advance. You want to run, avoid at all cost, but you can’t, that deadline still looms at the horizon and you need to do something. Your mind is asking you thousands of questions, what if I get a blackout? What if I forget my text and freeze and just stand there? Mumbling, stuttering looking like an idiot. I can’t do it. You already read all the tips to reduce the fear of public speaking and you still hope that you can find something that can help you get through this process.
If you recognise yourself in the paragraph above then I can only recommend reading overcome fear of public speaking using virtual reality (VR), or more scientifically written article about overcoming speech anxiety using virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). If you are just slightly nervous and want to read general advice in how to become more confident during your presentation, then please continue reading.
Public Speaking tips
Some people are natural speakers are they can throw a few slides together within a few hours and still able to give an awesome presentation with hardly any preparation. You are probably not such as person. So you need to take care of four steps.
Step 1: Create a perfect looking presentation
When you make a perfect looking presentation with a good story line and a good flow and seeing all your work in a perfect looking package. You probably feel proud about your work, and somewhere deep inside you want to tell it about, you want to show it, only you lack to courage, but we’ll try to fix that later.
Create an Epic Presentation
Make a crystal clear sheets. Use large font sizes, makes graphs nearly full screen with readable axis, don’t be afraid to use pictures only text in often very boring. Prevent putting too much information in one sheet. It is better to have 3 or 4 sheets with easy to swallow information than 1 combined sheet where you have to explain every detail. You know what is on the sheet, but for the audience they have to in a lot of information. And yourself can get lost in your story which increases the chance you get entangled in your own words and freeze up. Keep it simple if you can.
Create a good Flow
This is very important. Every sheet should have an introduction line and an extroduction line where you introduce the next sheet. This enables you already a head start when discussing the content, and choose the intro so that what follows is more or less logical. When you still forgot your text, you still always have the extroduction line to get you out of there. When you happen to forget the extroduction line you still should now the intro of the next sheet. If you forget both, then you didn’t practice enough.
Think Ahead (back up slides)
People are often afraid for questions when defending their work, but you can control in a way the questions that you get. When you make slides with not too much information then you should be able to predict what questions people can ask and rehearse your best answers. Also for very complex explanation add that to a backup sheet. And if you really don’t know. Admit it, just say that’s a good questions, if haven’t thought about that. Or try to pass it to a senior and see if he can answer it.
Step 2: Practice for the olympics
When you know your material well, there’s a tendency to get sloppy when practicing a speech: You might flip through the slides, mentally thinking about what you are going to say, without actually rehearsing out loud exactly what you plan to say. This results in a presentation that’s not as sharp as it could be and might cause you to be nervous once you have 100 pairs of eyes staring at you. You can also forget some important sub-points and key soundbites.
Practicing out loud!
For a high-stakes presentation, and verbalizing your complete presentation.do this at least five times, at spaced intervals, to encode your material in long-term memory. It’s also crucial that you practice your transitions—the words that link one idea in your presentation to the next. These are easy to forget if you don’t practice them and you end up with a staccato presentation. Transitions are the silken thread that guides your listeners through your story. Some examples: “Now that we have established …”; “This leads us to …”; “My next item is particularly crucial …
Memorize the sequence of your slides (& backwards)
Knowing the sequence of your slides so you can anticipate and announce a slide makes you look in control. Nothing erodes your credibility faster than having to look at a slide to know what you have to say next. Being perceived as credible boosts your confidence and reduces your anxiety and the fear of failing.
Learn to control your breathing
Go jogging a practice your presentation out loud, you will get used to talking without air, and how you can recover from it. It will also force you to control breathing during your speaking and how to get used to it.
Practice before you family/friends
If you are still very anxious, even if you are not. Ask one or two friends to listen to your story. Practicing alone or for actual people is totally different. And don’t panic when it doesn’t go right the first time. Get up and start again.
Step 3: Think Positive!
When you practiced until you were bored with it 10+ times, you know you can do this. You subconsious may be wanting to lie to you saying that what if i forget? what if i freeze? This only adds up to your anxiety. I know this, I can do this, I know my sheets, I know my lines, I know them backwards. Replace these negative thoughts with all the positive thoughts.
Stop seeing your presentation as something you have to do
At this point you should want to do it!
Step 4: Give it your Best
You prepared, you did everything in your power. You are ready.
Take deep breaths
During the presentation take deep breath, when you nervous you will take shallow breath, a the audience will see that you are nervous. Even when you do, you practiced jogging.
Don’t be afraid to pauze
In “The King’s Speech,” a movie about the true story of King George VI, one of the successful strategies the speech therapist uses to help the king overcome his stuttering is the use of pauses. Pausing helped the king regain his composure whenever he was gripped by anxiety. When you feel anxious while presenting, consider pausing more frequently. A few strategic pauses between points have a calming effect.
Come to terms with audience expressions
Your anxiety level is increased when you misinterpret the audience’s facial expression. In normal conversation, we’re accustomed to getting feedback from the listener—a nod or a smile here and there that signal approval. But when we present, audiences listen differently. They’re more likely to give the speaker a blank stare, which doesn’t mean they don’t like what they hear; more often than not, it simply means they’re concentrating on the message. This is especially true of audience members who are introverted.
Some More Public Speaking tips
Some more tips by the oral communication program at the Center for Teaching and Learning from the university of Stanford. Download them here:
Presentation Simulator (PSIM) is a virtual reality software application developed for the Oculus Rift and other VR hardware that places you in a virtual environment allowing you to give presentations in front of a virtual audience, giving you the opportunity to practice and gradually exposing yourself to your fear of public speaking and gradually desensitizing your anxiety.
Get more information on the pages below or go to the webshop and buy our exclusive Presentation Simulator VR-app for only $9.99 and start practicing for a realistic VR-audience:
Disclaimer: the presentation simulation software is developed based on scientific background, but every person reacts differently so no rights can be reserved on the effectiveness of the software.