I hear this a LOT. Me too! My first paid gig in front of a large audience was terrifying. I swear I “ummed” and “aahed” far more than I should have. My stomach was in knots the whole time. I felt like I stood there in the spotlight like a startled rabbit.
But once I started speaking, I found that my passion for my craft took over. I turned inward and spoke from the heart about the love for my craft.
When I finished I heard crickets … looking out in the crowd and seeing people were sitting there in stunned (or bored) silence. I thought I had actually lost them, but then applause broke out. As I walked offstage, I was in shock, people were thanking me. It was weird, but thrilling at the same time. I found that presentations were no different from the workshops. I did my research, I spoke with heart and passion. People liked what I had to say.
I guess it’s like anything, the first few times you do something are terrifying. But once you get over that first few, things seem to start to fall into place. Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous, but that just means I care about the presentation I am giving. There is no secret to getting over it — you have to work through it.
Know your topic and audience
The only advice I can give is to do your research, KNOW your topic and KNOW your audience. If you are asked to speak, they must be interested in what you have to offer.
I find I am doing more and more online presentations. The fact the spotlight doesn’t feel directly on me — I am not staring out at a crowd — is fantastic. So if this is something you feel you want to do, but are worried about a crowd, try something smaller. Try a few free online tutorials to get your feet wet.
Zoom, Google Meet, Skype and others are fantastic platforms. Just be prepared, make notes, make slideshows, do test runs with friends … it’s all about getting out there. If you are going online, invest in a decent web camera and mic — nothing to pricey — but not cheap junk either.