Public speaking anxiety, stage fright, or glossophobia — whatever you want to call it, the fear of speaking in public is a common phobia that affects everyone, even professionals and business executives. Students, in particular, dread presenting ideas at school. Research published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education notes that public speaking is a common fear in 61% of US college students, ranking behind only death and financial problems. Some reasons behind public speaking anxiety include fear of being judged, uncertainty about the topic, lack of preparation, and the need for more practical support.
Still, public speaking is a necessary skill that one must build over time, along with being able to manage any anxieties that come along with it. Here are some effective ways high school students can be more confident during class presentations:
You can definitely learn how to manage your fear of speaking in public, but it takes relentless preparation and practice to grow your confidence. The more you prepare, the better you will perform. Learn as much as you can about the topic. Then, rehearse your delivery, so you can explain what you know in the best way possible. Practice your hand gestures, body language, and vocal inflections; try to avoid using filler words such as “um”, “like”, or “so”. As a tip on upskilling from LHH points out, it helps to break the steps down into bite-size chunks, so you don’t get too overwhelmed. You can ask external coaches like your friends, siblings, or parents to help you practice. The route to successful public speaking becomes much clearer with their feedback because you’ll be able to identify what you really need to improve on.
Look people in the eye
It’s easy to tell when a student is nervous while presenting. They start looking down at their notes, shuffling their feet, and speaking less audibly. One trick to fake having confidence is to engage your audience with eye contact. Our eyes reveal what’s going on inside us. According to a study on “The Emotional Effects of Having Eye Contact While Breaking Social Norms”, our eyes make it harder to lie or hide things from other people, but that also builds communication, coordination, and trust. Start by looking at and pretending you’re talking to one of your friends in the audience. Preferably, find a friend all the way in the back to ensure you’re projecting your voice. Then, maintain eye contact with them until you feel more comfortable speaking. Afterwards, you can look at other people in the room.
Pretend you’re telling a story
As a fellow student, you know how easy it is to tune out when a presentation gets boring, especially when all you’re hearing are facts told in a half-hearted manner. One presentation tip is to tell a story. Your classmates, much like you, would appreciate relevant anecdotes or memorable examples about your presentation topic. By framing your report as a story, you put theory into practice, provoke emotional stimulus, and give everyone a break from cold facts and graphs. For example, if you’re doing a report on a scientific phenomenon, why not tell it from the scientist’s point of view? It would be easier for your classmates to understand complicated concepts or discoveries when you anchor them with a character in mind.
Banish negative thoughts
It’s really hard to conquer our fear of public speaking, but we can manage it, so it doesn’t stop us from giving an awesome presentation. The best way to do this is to get rid of our harsh inner critics. Our negative thoughts can be destructive, so it’s important to silence these before you begin your report. Presentation advice from INC highlights how we should strive to transform negative self-talk into positive thoughts. Instead of thinking you’re not good enough, tell yourself that you’re ready and excited to share what you know with everyone else. And rather than worrying about the audience judging you, focus on what you can control, which is your own performance. Don’t undermine your hard work with negativity. Remember, a presentation only lasts a few minutes — and it’s something to look forward to.
For more educational tips, check out our other posts on The Learning Apps Blog today.