When was the last time you did some public speaking?
Perhaps it was a presentation to a client, or maybe your boss, or at an interview, or even at an event in your personal life. Did you feel nervous?
It sometimes surprises people when I tell them I get slightly nervous before a speaking or training event. They seem to think that because I’ve been doing it for years, nervousness would no longer be an issue.
It doesn’t matter if it’s twelve people or twelve-hundred people. In fact, I’d probably prefer to speak to the twelve-hundred than the twelve.
Public speaking is still one of our greatest fears; it turns grown men and women into nervous wrecks. The mere thought of it turns our tongue to cotton wool, causes our internal plumbing to act up, and turns our knees to jelly.
However, “nerves” is a normal human emotion and as I often say, ‘I’d be nervous if I wasn’t nervous!’
It’s how you handle the nerves that will determine your success as a speaker.
Who’d be an actor?
The great actress Sarah Bernhardt once asked a young actress whether or not she suffered from nerves before she appeared on stage. ‘Oh no, Madame,’ the young actress replied. ‘Well,’ Sarah Bernhardt said, ‘Don’t worry; it will come along – with talent.’
The technical part
Nervousness is vital, you need nerves. Nerves release a cocktail of chemicals into your bloodstream, one of which is adrenaline. This in turn releases glucose into the blood stream. This gives you more energy and your mind becomes sharper.
The thing is, not to overdose on these stress chemicals or you’ll start to shake like a jelly and overheat. You need to work off some of these chemicals.
Listen to the professionals
Murray Walker the ex-motor racing commentator used to run on the spot as fast as he could just before he went on air. You could try that or run up and down the stairs. Wave your arms about like a lunatic and get lots of oxygen into your system. Obviously it’s better to do this when no one is looking!!
Speak to as many members of the audience as you can, before you stand up to speak. This tricks your brain into thinking you’re talking to lots of your friends.
Speak louder than you’d normally do, that helps the nerves as well. It also keeps the people in the front row awake and makes sure the people at the back get the message.
Have a glass of water handy for that dry mouth. Don’t be afraid to stop and have a drink, it makes you look really cool and professional.
However, one word of warning; do not drink alcohol. It might give you Dutch courage, but your audience will end up thinking you’re speaking Dutch!
If you’re into creative visualisation, then that’s also a great way to handle the nerves. Spend some time before the event visualising yourself being really successful. Whatever you do, have lots of positive self-talk with yourself.
Believe me; once you start to apply this, the butterflies in your stomach will all be flying in formation.
And, if you want to listen to this post:
If you want me to help you with your public speaking, give me a call or send me an email – go on, don’t be nervous!
+44 (0) 1383 306 391
+44 (0) 7506 578 306