Gbemisola Afolabi Written by Gbemisola Afolabi · 1 min read >

I thought I was a confident speaker till I fidgeted during my presentation. What was it that made me miss my lines??? Was it me being overconfident or the fact that I allowed fear to get the best part of me??? Goodness!! The whole introduction was smooth till I made eye contact with my lecturer, Eugene. Trust me, he wasn’t scary looking. I just didn’t know what it was that the eye contact did to me. Everything I thought I was going to say slipped right through my hands and I was stuck with going through the jottings I had with me. At this point, I was disorganized, you could tell from my gesticulations, the way I moved. I felt like entering the ground. I just wanted the time to be over so I could leave the stage. Imagine being on the stage and I could tell from everyone’s expression that, I was a hot mess! What a shame!

           I find myself being more expressive in a less tense environment, so this was a big hit on me. What do I think led to this anxiety?

  • I was self-conscious; this made me lose my train of thought.
  • I feared making a mistake would make me look less confident; this turned out worse than I envisaged as it only made me look more nervous than I was.
  • I feared that my colleagues would judge me negatively based on the outcome of my presentation.
  • Poor breathing habits: when one is anxious, one tends to breathe faster which affects the outflow of verbal communication.
  • Comparing myself to others who had presented. Imagine the lineup of great presenters before me; this made me more agitated.

I just concluded a personal research on how to be a better public speaker. I came up with these few points

  • Shifting the focus from myself and my fears to the true purpose of my presentation which is presenting something of value to my audience
  • Stop scaring myself with what might go wrong, I would focus my attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring.
  • Remove any thought of self-doubt and low self-confidence
  • Give up trying to be perfect and be natural
  • Stand and gesticulate more confidently whilst making eye contact
  • Think of the audience as friends, this helps to establish connections.
  • Make the presentation as simple as possible so that if I skip a line, I can easily get back on my feet.
  • If possible, avoid being over-reliant on your jottings, present with the flow, because jottings could be distracting.
  • For ladies, “I think that when you wear heels when presenting it boosts confidence”

A quick tip I thought to share on how to gesticulate and move in a confident manner as a lady

“Heels give you a certain confidence that’s noticeable to everyone, not just men but other women too

Hopefully, by incorporating these suggestions, I will be able to while improve my next presentation. I can’t wait to tell you all how it turns out. 


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