Public Speaking: Calm Your Nerves
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Public speaking can be a scary venture, but it does not have to be. In fact, anyone can get through a public speaking engagement with ease and poise. The key is to calm your nerves both before and during the speech. There are things you can start doing right now to ensure that your next speaking engagement goes perfectly.
Prepare and Practice for the Speech
Proper preparation is the most important aspect of calming your nerves for public speaking. When you are fully prepared, this automatically makes you more confident before you even hit the stage. Start by practicing your speech, and a good rule of thumb for those who are extremely nervous is to practice one hour for every one minute of your speech. For example, if your speech is going to last for 10 minutes, you should spend 10 hours practicing and preparing for it.
The biggest part of preparation is writing your speech. This is the first thing you need to do, and as you write it, you should also present it to someone that you trust. This allows you to get important feedback so that you can make the necessary changes. When you are happy with what you have written and you know it word-for-word, you will not feel nearly as nervous as you would if you did not do the right preparation.
Know the Room Before the Speech
Go to the venue where you will be delivering your speech in advance so that you can walk around the room and get to know it. It is easier to not be nervous when you are familiar with your surroundings. You only need about 10 minutes to do this and you can even do it the day of your speech if you cannot get in days in advance. Simply get to the venue before anyone else arrives so that the room is empty. This is important because you want to be able to focus on the room itself at this point and not those in it.
Introduce Yourself Before Speaking
Before giving your speech, getting to know some of the audience members will boost your confidence. Take a few minutes to walk around and introduce yourself to some of the people there. This furthers adds to that familiarity that will help to calm your nerves before getting up on stage. You do not have to know the entire room, just introduce yourself briefly to about 10 people to calm your nerves.
Seed Your Audience
Ask people who you know and trust to come and listen to you speak. This gives you familiar faces to focus on when you are on stage and talking. Ideally, you want to seed your audience with two to five people per 100 people in the audience. Make sure that they spread out and sit in different areas so that as you are changing your focal point during your speech, you have someone you know that you can focus on.
The Audience Wants to Listen to You
When you go somewhere to deliver a speech, those in attendance actually do want to hear what you have to say. They are here for you and they want you to succeed and deliver a great speech. Keep this in mind because many people get nervous over feeling as if they are taking up the time of those in the audience. Get energized by the fact that all of the people in the audience are anticipating every work and they are here to not only hear what you have to say, but also to provide you with some support when you are up on stage.
Remember to Breathe While Speaking
It is so easy to put all of your focus on talking that you forget to breathe while you are speaking. After you finish illustrating a point, take two seconds to breathe in and out. This allows you to refocus and continue on without any nervousness building up. It also helps to not put all of your focus on your words because if you accidentally jumble them, this can further your nervousness.
Go through all of these steps when you are getting ready for a public speaking engagement and delivering your speech. They ensure that you are fully prepared and focused, significantly reducing the risk of anything going wrong. Full preparation works to calm your nerves so that you feel more comfortable throughout your speech.
- Rosemary Kitchen
Kim, L. (2015). 15 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation. Retrieved on February 5, 2015 from http://www.inc.com/larry-kim/15-power-up-tips-to-make-you-a-better-presenter.html
Staley, K. (2015). 30 Ways to Manage Speaking Anxiety. Retrieved on February 5, 2015 from http://counseling.studentlife.uiowa.edu/self-help/30-ways-to-manage-speaking-anxiety/