CAREER TIPS - 3 simple strategies to conquer your public speaking nerves
Contemplating the idea of speaking in front of actual people in person again? Or are you giving a presentation to the big boss or a potential client over Zoom?
If you’re suddenly experiencing a racing pulse, shallow breathing, and weak limbs, the good news is, it’s most likely not a heart attack.
Calm your public speaking nerves with these three effective tactics.
Much of the confidence you need to speak in front of a group comes from preparation. Determine the themes and messages you want to deliver. Once you know what you want to say, you have to practice. If you stand up and say it out loud, you will immediately find ways to say it smarter and shorter. You can record yourself on your video conference software or practice in front of your friends or family.
Decide if you are going to speak from prose or notes. If you are using notes, shorten them to as few words as you need to remind yourself what you want to say. Number the pages, print them in a big font, staple them and keep them nearby—even if you don’t think you will need them. When you’re walking a tight rope, it’s nice to have a safety net.
What can you do to amplify your enthusiasm, your inner strength, and your energy? Shadowboxing? Tapping? Reading an inspirational poem by Amanda Gorman? I sing the Rocky theme song to myself, quietly in my head, while I envision a parade in my honor. This builds my morale, lifts my spirits, and elevates my courage.
Our current work from home environment is great for power posing. Taking an expansive stance ahead of an event tells your body to send messages of strength and confidence to your brain. In your home office, you can do the victory pose until just before you turn on your video camera.
In the days and minutes running up to your event, think of all the good things to come, rather than obsessing over what can go wrong. Think about how good you are going to feel when you finish with a job well done. Put the power of positive thinking to work for you.
You have prepared, practiced, and power posed, but it is half an hour before your event and your fight or flight response is kicking in. The loud heartbeat in your head; the quick, shallow breathing; the quiver in your legs. Your solution is oxygen. Breathe.
At this point, you have time to slow down and calm yourself with these breathing exercises. If the symptoms kick in while you are speaking for instance if you feel a sweat coming on or you can’t finish a sentence without seizing an extra breath, take a pause. A long, slow breath or two deep into your abdomen, can help bring those nervous reactions under control. The oxygen can start flowing to your brain again.
Keep in mind that your audience wants you to succeed—even if for the selfish reason that it is uncomfortable to watch someone who is outwardly nervous. It is completely normal to be nervous. Turn those nerves into positive energy and project confidence on the outside.
YOU’VE GOT THIS
Preparation, confidence building, and breathing are effective tools you can use to manage the nervous reactions that come with public speaking. Just knowing that you have a plan to manage your potential anxiety will help you overcome your apprehensions.
Next time you have the chance to give a career-enhancing presentation, media interview, or business pitch, keep these things in mind: It’s one more step on your journey to maximize the trajectory of your career. The tools are yours. Plan what you want to say, practice, envision your success, do some deep breathing, and grab this next public speaking opportunity by the horns.
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