First, recognize that you have something important to say! Your audience is there because they are interested in hearing it. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties, and outwardly toward your message and your audience. Your nervousness will dissipate. Follow along for our 9 tips for calming your nerves when public speaking!
1. It’s Good to be Nervous. The butterflies in your stomach and the shaking of your hands and feet are caused by adrenaline—and your body is in fight or flight mode. This nervous energy is good
because it will provide energy to your speech and it will keep it from being boring or flat. The key is to use this energy for good and for it not to take over your speech.
2. Butterflies or queasy stomach. Before your speech spend some time doing positive visualization and deep breathing. Close your eyes and visualize yourself giving the speech, remember how you have practiced it, take several deep breathes and relax your shoulders and neck. Avoid caffeine! This will only add to the adrenaline and make you feel queasier.
3. Quaking voice. Before giving your speech you want to make sure to “warm it up.” You get the quivers out by expending energy. You could sing (something cheerful), traditional choir warm-ups (la, la, la, la) or read aloud (practice giving your speech, read a newspaper out loud). Over-enunciate, go over many vocal ranges.
4. Shaky hands. Before your speech roll your shoulders forward and back to relax them. Also roll your head from side to side relax your neck. Stretch your arms to relieve tension and expend energy. Finally, right before your speech press your palms either together or on top of a table or desk to expend the energy out of your arms.
5. Trembling feet or legs. While sitting press your feet into the floor as hard as you can. Try walking at a slow and regular pace and breathing deeply.
6. Remember to breathe. While giving your speech remember to pause and breathe. For many people nervousness causes them to speak too quickly. Remember to pause, breathe and give the audience a chance to react to what you are saying.
7. Dry mouth. Keep a water bottle on hand and drink as needed. People will expect this.
8. Um, ah, etc. When you find yourself stumbling, pause, take a deep breath and refocus yourself back on message. Work on eliminating these vocal fillers by substituting therefore, moreover, additionally. These don’t sound like fillers but give you time to think of your next point.
9. PowerPose: Before heading onstage, use your body to calm your mind and tap into feelings of powerfulness. Researcher Amy Cuddy has found that powerful positions, held for two minutes, help increase feelings of confidence. Before heading into the meeting, put your arms up high like you’ve won a race, open up your body with hands on your hips, or stride – yes, stride – up and down the hall to feel powerful!
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