How to Improve your presentation skills and overcome your fear of public speaking if you are not a native speaker of English
Fear of public speaking is a common form of anxiety. This fear of public speaking—especially in front of a native English speaking audience—is also a fear many nonnative English speakers have.
Many people with this fear avoid public speaking situations altogether, or they suffer through them with shaking hands and a quavering voice.
To overcome your fear you will need to identify what exactly you are afraid of. Some fears are usually based on personal negative experiences. For example, not being understood when speaking English in front of an audience.
The following are powerful tips to improve your presentation skills in English that would help you overcome your fear of public speaking.
1. Make sure that you know you know your topic well
The more you care about the topic and the better you understand what you're talking about — the less likely you'll get off track or make a mistake. And if you do get lost, you'll be able to recover quickly. Think about what questions the audience may ask and have your responses ready.
The more you practice public speaking in English and prepare for situations in which you feel fear, like speaking English in front of an audience, the more you will replace that fear with confidence.
Look at any mistakes you made as an opportunity to improve your presentation skills.
2. Plan out the information and get organized
Carefully plan out all the information you want to present ahead of time, including any visual or audio aids. The more organized you are, the less nervous you'll be. Use an outline on a small card to stay on track. It is always helpful to visit the place where you'll be speaking and review available equipment before your presentation.
3. Practice your presentation out loud
Practice your presentation from start to finish a few times for some people you're comfortable with and ask for their feedback. Also practice with a few people with whom you're less familiar. Make a video of your presentation so you can watch yourself presenting and see opportunities for improvement.
4. Prepare for things that could go wrong to eliminate specific worries
List all the things that could go wrong. Then directly challenge them by identifying probable and alternative outcomes. Prepare for things that could go wrong in advance. Example: Have a backup copy of your presentation in case technology fails.
5. Know your technology
Technology should not form the basis of your presentation, content should. If you expect to be using technology, make sure you know what tools are available in the location where you will be presenting.
Take the time to confirm what equipment you will have at your disposal, and make sure you know how to use it. If you are giving a presentation in your own building, you can just walk over to your scheduled room and check out the physical setup.
Make sure that you are comfortable using any technology and equipment that is part of your presentation.
6. Focus on your material, not on your audience.
People mainly pay attention to new information — not how it's presented. They may not notice your nervousness. However, if audience members do notice that you're nervous, they may root for you and want your presentation to be a success.
7. Don't fear a moment of silence.
If you lose track of what you're saying or start to feel nervous and your mind goes blank, it may seem like you've been silent for an eternity. In reality, it's probably only a few seconds. Even if it's longer, it's likely your audience won't mind a pause to consider what you've been saying
Good speakers know to take pauses during their presentations to hold the audience’s attention. If you rush through your presentation too fast, the audience will begin feeling lost and stop paying attention.
In a nutshell
A lot of the work for giving a presentation comes before you deliver it. Developing informative content, creating clear visual aids, and making sure you are prepared will all make a presentation go more smoothly, even if you are nervous.
“Fear is not your enemy, it is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow” (Steve Pavlina)
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