Imagine being on stage and you’re so overcome with anxiety that you just freeze. Yeah, it’s a real fear. So much so that the fear of public speaking paralyzes people. Statistics show that 74% of people suffer from stage fright. Communication apprehension, also known as speech anxiety, is most people’s number 1 phobia.
Chances are since you’re tuning into this lesson, you’re ready to face this fear head on and overcome your fear of stage fright.
I’m here to help you do that with tips on how to avoid getting too nervous in public speaking.
Today we are talking about how to start a speech without getting too nervous. And how to be calm during your speech even if you have forgotten something.
This is important if we want to have a clear head and calm mind. It’ll allow us to embrace the spontaneity that comes with any live performance.
So let’s jump right into it.
1. shift the focus to the audience
Don’t treat the speech as an assessment of your intellect or knowledge. Instead, treat it as a way to add value to the audience’s lives. You should focus your energy on ensuring what you are saying is articulated as clearly as possible.
If the audience understands what you are saying, then you’ve done your job.
You can even check in with the audience during your speech to assess comprehension. Ask questions like “Raise your hand if this makes sense” or “Before I proceed, does anyone have any questions about what I just said?”
By shifting the focus from yourself to serving the audience, you transform the speech from an uncomfortable confrontation into an act of public service. You feel good and the audience appreciates the value you are providing them.
2. channel the nervous energy as passion
When giving a speech, most people are going to feel a strong sense of nervous energy. This can be distracting and even cause you to do things like shake or have a warbly voice.
But if channeled the right way, that same energy can actually be used to your advantage. Let it give you strength. Let it fill your muscles and diaphragm. Use it as fuel for the speech you are about to give.
In the book Originals, Wharton Business School Professor Adam Grant talks about how trying to calm yourself down when giving a speech is a waste of energy. Your heart rate is already up, so capitalize on that.
Every time you catch yourself feeling worried, nervous or scared, remind yourself that that feeling is a source of power. Instead of saying you are nervous, say that you are pumped. That energy is your ally on stage. Let it reveal your passion.
3. prepare, prepare, prepare
You’ve probably heard this one before. And it should seem obvious. But you’d be amazed at how often people reach the stage without properly preparing.
Most of the time, this is because they were just too darn nervous to prepare. They procrastinated because they didn’t want to even think about the moment when they would need to stand in front of an audience.
This starts a vicious cycle: by not practicing, you feel less prepared. And feeling less prepared makes you feel more nervous. The more nervous you get, the less likely you are to practice. That spiral continues until speech day, when you have become a complete bundle of nerves.
For this reason, it’s really important to nip this one in the bud. Practice early and often. Start simple. Just read through it a few times. Then try speaking it aloud. Eventually, you can try it in front of a camera, or some friends. The important part here is frequency. The more you do it, the more familiar you become with the content, and the better you will feel.
Once it becomes almost automatic, there’s no way to feel nervous, because it will be as simple as breathing.
So let’s recap 3 ways of lowering speech anxiety:
(1) focus on serving your audience, and delivering them value, rather than on what they think of you
(2) embrace the sensation of nervousness, use it as a source of energy and fuel for your passion
(3) practice early and often
Alright Explearners, thanks for tuning in and I hope you found this lesson valuable. Remember that progress is non-linear. So even if you practice just one of these steps you’re in a good spot. Be kind and patient with yourself, enjoy the journey.
Add these tips to your Explearning communication toolkit, try them out, and make them your own!
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I’ll see you in my next lesson 😊
Happy Explearning 🐝