Speaking in public is one of the most common fears that people have. Just the thought of it can bring even the most pulled together of us to break out in a cold sweat. It doesn't even have to be on a stage or to a large group to make the anxiety kick in. In fact, for many people who are looking for a job, this fear hinders there ability to do things like write a great cover letter, interview without nervous mistakes or even just making a follow up phone call.
If you have this fear, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to the majority of us. The thing is, speaking in public doesn't have to be a painful process. The key is to find ways to get others interested in what you are saying. Once you have an audience listening to what you have to say, the nerves disappear.
Here are 5 tips that can help you be a better speaker and get rid of anxiety:
Tell a story. Think about it. We all love a good story. Stories ignite our imagination and make us interested in finding out what happens next. Make your resume, cover letter and even interview responses tell a story about who you are and what you have to offer. Think about your story and arrange your presentation around that. This way, when an employer reads your cover letter and resume, they will see the story of you.
Respect your audience. One mistake that many people who are nervous about speaking in public make is trying to impress their audience. In an interview, coming in with the goal of impressing a hiring manger often backfires. It can come off as being arrogant. Instead of having the goal of impressing them; try to respect them and make a real connection.
Make eye contact. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so use them to show that you mean what you are saying. I don't know about you, but I instinctively don't trust people who won't look me in the eye. Even if you are speaking to a group, take a moment to make eye contact with each person. When you look at them, they feel more involved and connected. Without good eye contact, anything you say feels like you are just reciting information rather than just talking.
Repeat the important points. When writing a speech or just outlining the things you want to say in an interview, keep in mind that the most effective speakers tell you what they are going to say, then they say it, then they tell you what they said. For example, you can start by saying that you are an excellent fit for the job because you have the skills, training and motivation to be the best. Then, tell them about it. After, mention that with all of the assets you bring to the table, you believe that you would make a great member of their team. It might seem a bit repetitive at first, but research has shown that people believe the things they hear more than once - even when the same person is telling them it.
Keep it simple. Our brains have limits and when it comes to remembering things, this is especially true. Try to keep your presentation down to less than 7 key points. Anything more than that and you audience will become confused and lose interest. Personally, I think that filtering it down to three or four key points works best. For example, if you say that you have the skills, training and proven track record of success for a job, touch on those three things, then summarize.
If you think that your anxiety about speaking in public is holding you back, or you want to become a better speaker, look for local classes at your public library, toastmasters group or community college.
Are you afraid of speaking in public? What things help you overcome it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for PhillyJobsBlog and Nexxt, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.
Image by brainpop_uk via Flickr
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- 5 Job Search Fears - And How to Just Get Over it (manufacturingworkersblog.com)