Thursday, October 24, 2013
Public Speaking: The Positive Effects Of Nervousness
It never ceases to amaze me how many people want to get rid of their nervousness in public speaking. In truth, they should embrace that wonderful rush of adrenaline. If you’re not nervous when presenting, then I am because being overly confident is never a good thing in public speaking or any live venue for that matter. If you look at nervousness and what it does to your body, you have 3 choices: freeze, flight, or fight mode. We have all seen those in the freeze scenario in which they stare at the audience in a rigid stance while their bodies tremble with fear and they are unable to utter a word. And, as one who has taught public speaking for many years, I have certainly had a few students who have literally walked out of the room before presenting. This we would call desperate flight! The fight mode, however, is what you should aim for because it is in this scenario that you will be able to face your audience, open your mouth, and deliver your speech or presentation. When you place yourself in this mode and learn to take control of your nervousness, you will then have the upper hand, in which you are in control of the situation and not your nervousness. So how do you take control? By: 1. knowing your material – which means practicing it out loud over and over and over again; 2. talking to your audience as if you were having a conversation in your living room; 3. speaking with color, with life, with emotion; 4. believing in yourself; and, most importantly; 5. learning to breathe with the support of your diaphragm which is truly the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking. The secret to the breathing is that most people are lazy breathers using only the upper portion of the chest for respiration. The result of this type of shallow breathing means that your body is unable to eliminate the toxins in your blood. If you are unable to rid your blood of the toxins, your nervousness or panic increases. This is why the 1st step in stopping a panic attack is to breathe. If, on the other hand, you learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm, you will notice that you feel more relaxed and more in control, that you are better able to focus on the subject at hand, (and not on your nervousness) and that you are able to communicate with your audience instead of at them. Great public speakers are nervous. Learn to breathe, embrace your nervousness for what it is, and you will be surprised at how much better your presentation skills will be.