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FEARLESS PRESENTING: STRATEGIES FOR TAMING YOUR NERVES (598 Words)

Your heart pounds. You breathe faster and harder. You begin to sweat. Your blood pressure increases. Your face gets flush. Your mind seems like it’s going a mile a minute and can’t stop. You forget what you’re going to say. Do any of these happen to you when you speak in public? If so, you’re not alone. Every presenter — novice and veteran alike — gets nervous. The difference from one presenter to another , however, is how well they manage this anxiety.

 

Speaking is stressful

Speaking in front of others, according to the brain, is a stressful situation. When your brain’s limbic system senses stress, it sends signals to various parts of your body, including your adrenal glands. These small glands immediately send adrenaline through your system, getting you ready for fight or flight. What are the effects of this preparedness? Your heart pounds. Your breathing gets quicker. You begin to sweat. Your blood pressure increases. Your face gets flush. Your mind resembles a spinning roulette wheel. Sound familiar?

 

The first step to dealing with your fear of public speaking is understanding that it’s normal. The next step is to realize there is a tremendous difference between fear and danger, and by no means are you in danger when speaking in public. The third step is a change in mindset, i.e., you don’t have to share your information with others; you get to share your information with them.

 

While changing your mindset, remember this. Public speaking is always all about the audience, yet most people who fear public speaking say things like, “What if I make a mistake.?” “I hope I don’t forget what I am going to say.” “I hope I do a good job.” “What if they don’t like me?” “I hope they listen to me.” “What if I’m not funny?” See a pattern here? I, I, I, me, me, I. Your focus is in the wrong place. How could even the most experienced speaker deal with that kind of self-imposed pressure?

 

Relax before you speak
Diaphragmatic breathing, otherwise known as deep breathing or cleansing breaths, is a powerful tool. It helps calm your nerves. But keep in mind a couple of cautions. One is not to hold your breath. Holding your breath when breathing this way does more to tense your body than to help it relax. The other is to exhale slowly. Quickly exhaling might make you lightheaded.

Meditation is another technique many people use to help with their speech anxiety. Benefits include lowering your blood pressure, improving blood circulation, lowering your heart rate, reducing perspiration, and slowing your respiratory rate.

 

Some speakers — I’m one of them — go through rituals before speaking. These routines help you get in the proper frame of mind. When possible, I walk, even if it’s in a small area where I can only pace back and forth. And whether I can walk or not, I practice diaphragmatic breathing and visualize my opening and ending. 

 

Visualization is a technique you can borrow from athletes. Just like a sprinter visualizes herself crossing the finish line first, you can picture yourself grabbing everyone’s attention with your opening words. You can see in your mind people making eye contact and nodding their heads as you speak. You can visualize yourself delivering a compelling closing that impacts or inspires your listeners. Try it. It’s highly effective.

 

You’ve got this

Public speaking is an art based on science, and that means anyone, including you, can tame their nerves, overcome apprehension, and share their knowledge, experience, and ideas with others.

Peter George Speaker and Public Speaking CoachPeter George

 

With a wealth of experience as a veteran speaker, public speaking coach, and acclaimed author, Peter has assisted over 300,000 executives, consultants, and professionals across 50 countries in harnessing the power of public speaking to increase their impact, influence, and income.

 

Peter’s notable achievements include authoring the six-time award-winning book, “The Captivating Public Speaker,” and pioneering the AMP’D Framework™, a methodology designed to empower speakers in crafting compelling messages tailored to their audiences.

 

Drawing from personal triumph over speech impediments like a lisp and stutter, Peter believes everyone should be able to effectively communicate their advice, expertise, and experiences.

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