How to deal with nervousness when asked to give a speech

We’ve all heard the statistics: people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of snakes, spiders, or even death. You are not alone.

It is stressful to think of a room full of people whose eyes of judgment are on you. What if you forget what you wanted to say? What if you trip over the microphone cable or tuck your skirt behind your pantyhose? What if you have broccoli on your teeth, salsa on your tie, or get booed off stage? What if everyone thinks you’re an idiot?

Thinking this way is what leads most people to feel that death is a better alternative than public speaking, but it’s all in your imagination. Like anything else you’ve learned to do, you can overcome your discomfort by understanding the mechanics and practicing.

The audience is on your side

Have you ever expected a speaker to suck? To be boring? Fail miserably? Of course not! You want to be entertained and informed like the rest of the audience. You want the speaker to be successful. Even if the speaker is a complete stranger, you are supporting him and you really hope he does well.

Think about it. This is why we watch game shows – we love to see people win! We want people to be successful. It’s just human nature.

Your audience supports you! All the people in the room look forward to your success. Remember this at all times: the audience is completely on your side.

Prepare for the best and the worst

One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that people spend so much time preparing for the worst things that can happen (and never do) that they forget to plan when the best things happen. Do you even know how to handle success?

Focus on your next speech from the perspective that you are planning a really good experience. Then, and only then, make sure you have your bases covered for whatever may happen along the way. Know your speech well enough that if the projector isn’t working, you don’t need your PowerPoint. Memorize the opening and closing so that if you need to cut back on your time, you can. Bring an extra pair of pantyhose. Bring an extra tie. Do a sound check before the event so you know what works and where the dead spots are. Having a plan for things that could go wrong will allay many of your fears.

Throughout my professional speaking career, I’ve had sound systems failures, lights go out mid-speech, stage stairs collapse, fire alarms go off, venues change, I’ve even been asked that I cut my time by half a minute before continuing. However, the odds are in your favor. These things have happened to me over the course of 15 years. Still, I have never been booed offstage. The public was still on my side.

Prepare for the best possible outcome, but also be prepared to deal with any of the things that might they happen, with the assurance that they probably won’t. Every ship has lifeboats, but no ships plans we sink. Plan a smooth sailing, prepare for rough waters if you hit them.

Practical practical practice

Do you remember the first time you tried to tie your shoes? Roller skate? Drive by car? Read? It was not easy. It took practice. Now it is second nature. Talking is the same. The more you practice, the easier it will be.

After you’ve written your speech, practice in front of the mirror. Then practice for a family member, even if it’s your dog. (My dog ​​is my best sounding board). Practice with some friends. Practice in your car, in the shower, while you walk. Practice in your head. Visualize yourself calm, fresh and dynamic.

Join a Toastmasters club. This is a wonderful organization that allows you to grow at your own pace in a supportive environment. You can practice your speech and get immediate feedback. It is inexpensive and invaluable for a novice speaker.

You got this

On the day of your presentation, you will have hours of practice and preparation under your belt. It was all worth it. You feel ready.

Get to the place early. Reach the room. Walk across the stage, if there is one. Check the microphone and equipment. Familiarize yourself with the speaking area. See where your audience will be and visualize them smiling at you.

A few minutes before your scheduled date to speak, go to the nearest bathroom. Look at yourself in the mirror. Look into your eyes. Tell yourself that you are smart and worthy. You have rehearsed. Are you ready. Set your intention to deliver a dynamic speech. Do one last broccoli check on your teeth and hair.

Just before going on stage or on the lectern, take a deep breath. Release it slowly. Shake hands with the person who introduced you. Let them go. Then look around you and smile at your audience. They are on your side. You got this.

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