Considering just how much effort it takes to give a speech, it’s perfectly natural that every speaker should feel at least some level of nervousness. However, when we start to “shut down” because we’re so scared about giving a speech that’s when we start to realize that this whole nervousness thing has gotten out of hand. What’s a speaker to do?
Press The Flesh
There truly can be nothing more nerve-racking than standing in front of a group of strangers and trying to give a speech. Since you know that this is not what you want to do, you should find a way to change the game.
A simple and easy way to do this is to make sure that you have time to meet some or all of your audience before your speech starts. The process of meeting people, learning their names, shaking hands with them, and basically getting to know them can work miracles.
All of a sudden a room full of strangers who you may have believed didn’t really care to hear what you are going to be talking about will have been transformed into a gathering of friends who are eager and interested in hearing what you have to say. Who would be afraid of talking to friends?
Remember To Breath
A most curious thing happens whenever we start to get nervous or afraid:we stop breathing. Hopefully it goes without saying that this is a bad thing when you are going to be giving a speech.
When you get nervous, you start to take a series of short, shallow breaths that don’t give the stale air in your lungs a chance to clear out. This means that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen and so very quickly you’ll start to have a faster heart rate, difficulty breathing, etc.
Once again the cure is quite simple. When you realize that this is what you are doing, stop and take several deep breaths. This will provide your lungs with the air that they need and should help to make all of those symptoms of nervousness go away.
Pull Yourself Up
When we become nervous, we start to build up a lot of (what else?)nervous energy. If you don’t want to appear to be nervous to your audience, then what you’ve got to do is to find a way to get rid of this nervous energy.
When you are sitting on a chair on stage waiting for the announcer to complete your introduction, your options for venting nervous energy are limited. However, don’t despair, there’s an old trick that the pros use that will help you out.
Simply place both of your hands on the sides of the bottom of the chair that you are sitting on and proceed to pull up for a few minutes. Unless you are Harry Potter, that chair isn’t going anywhere with you sitting on it and you’ll be discreetly venting some of that nervous energy. Relax and try it again to vent even more energy.
Let’s Get Physical
This one takes a bit longer to do, but it also comes with long-term payoffs. Taking the time to get physically fit is a great way to keep your nerves under control.
By finding a physical exercise that you enjoy doing, you’ll have come up with a way to vent that nervous energy long before you are standing on a stage. It doesn’t matter if you take up running, walking, biking or whatever. Just as long as you keep moving, your nerves won’t be able to keep up with you.
What All Of This Means For You
Being a speaker means being nervous. In one way this is a good thing: your nerves will keep you alert and full of energy. However, having too much nervous energy means that it will start to spill out and your audience will become distracted by just how nervous you are.
What you need to do is to find ways that work for you to keep your nervous energy under control. Meeting your audience, remembering to breathe properly, and exercising can all help you to do this.
In the end it’s your words that you want your audience to remember about your speech, not how nervous you seemed to be. Follow these suggestions and you’ll come across as a cool and confident speaker who really knows their stuff.
Question For You: What do you think that you should do with your hands if you are feeling nervous during a speech?
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Quiz time: what’s the most important part of your next speech? The opening? The points that you make in the middle to support your position or idea? Nope,it’s the close. The last few words out of your mouth are the ones that will have the greatest impact on your audience. Since this is true, why are you doing such a poor job with your speech endings?