When it comes to standing in front of an audience, are you a nervous speaker? If you are – don’t worry. You are not alone. A friend of mine – an experienced speaker – is physically ill before he speaks. Why are we so nervous when we speak?
There are a lot of reasons. The ones I hear most often are:
- I’m afraid I’ll look and sound stupid
- I’m afraid I’ll forget something
- The audience will be bored and show it
- I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake
- I won’t achieve my goals
- I’ll embarrass myself or my company
When people speak, their bodies betray their nervousness:
- They’ll pace back and forth
- Their hands shake as they clutch their script
- Knuckles whiten as they clutch the lectern
- People contort their legs into strange positions (one man did a good impression of a flamingo)
- Men thrust hands deep into pockets, apparently searching for loose change
Here are a few strategies to conquer nerves:
- Tell yourself you are excited to speak, not afraid. Your body reacts the same way to fear and excitement. So train your mind to think “I’m excited and happy to speak.”
- Speak to one person. Find a receptive face and imagine you are having a conversation with that person.
- Focus on the audience. Focus on being able to give them information or insights that will help them move forward. Focus on being of service.
- Stand with feet apart in one place. Move only if it makes sense technically or strategically.
- Use your hands naturally, as you always do. Don’t fixate on them. Speak from the heart and the hands will follow.
- If appropriate, introduce yourself to the audience before you speak. Shake some hands. Welcome them. Talk to them. Getting to know who’s in the room will break down barriers and help make your feel comfortable.
- Use my TalkitOut Technique. It will unleash your natural, conversational, authentic voice. You will feel more like yourself. And when you are being yourself, you will feel less nervous.
The TalkitOut Technique and advice on body language are just two of the things you’ll find in a free White Paper I’ve put together called ‘Top Tips for Speakers’. You’ll find the download button just below this article.
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.