On his site and in his classes, communication coach Bill Smartt shares some incredibly helpful, and easy to apply tips that’ll help even the most fearful public speakers feel at ease. Here are our favorites:
Make eye contact often. When addressing a crowd, make eye contact with different audience members for 3 to 5 seconds each (when talking to one person, 7 to 10 seconds is ideal). This will make the audience feel more connected to what you’re saying, and will help you feel like you’re having a casual conversation instead of presenting formally.
Smile. Even if you’d rather jump out a window than get on stage, smiling (even if it’s fake) before you begin and whenever you can throughout. This will tell both your audience and your brain that you’re happy to be there.
Breathe. Replace filler words like “um,” “like,” or “and” with a breath instead. This will also help to slow down your heart rate and keep you feeling grounded.
Practice. Try recording your presentation on your phone, practicing in front of a mirror, or rehearsing with a friend. This will help you identify any filler words you gravitate towards, whether you’re talking too fast or too slow. Having these small improvements in mind can also help replace the otherwise looming thoughts you might otherwise have.
Keep it simple. Breaking your ideas down into small bite-sized thoughts will not only help your audience stay engaged, but it’ll also be easier for you to find a rhythm and not get lost in any tangents.
This article originally appeared on 99u.com.
Jenn is the associate director of partnerships for Behance, working with clients like Pantone, AOL, RISD and Wacom. Prior to joining Behance, Jenn was the senior marketing manager for The Drake Hotel in Toronto. Say hello on Twitter.