Did you know that public speaking is the #1 fear in the world? Which means that getting nervous before a speech or presentation is completely normal.
The problem arises when our nerves become so debilitating that they affect our performance and/or deter us from seizing a great opportunity - like presenting to the Board of Directors or pitching to investors.
For many, feelings of panic, light-headedness, nausea, uncontrollable shaking and even passing out (!) can be triggered by just the thought of public speaking.
But here's the good news - our nerves can be managed. Here are 5-simple ways you can start managing your nerves today...
1. Acknowledge that it's normal
Give yourself a break! Know that everyone gets nervous before speaking. You are not alone (far from it, actually!). Great speakers are also great at managing their nerves. Like anything else, it's a skill that can be developed over time. The question is not "how do I stop being nervous" but rather "how can I better manage my nerves that they don't become a distraction"?
2. Remember to breathe
This sounds like a silly tip, but have you ever been so nervous while talking that you felt like you were running out of breath? Ever wonder why? It's actually due to your body reacting to your "fight or flight" response; trying to get more oxygen into your muscles. This is also why you will sometimes feel light-headed. A simple solution to this, is to (1) slow down your pace of speech and (2) remember to take deep breaths.
3. Engage the audience
Look for opportunities to bring the audience into your presentation. Maybe it's through a question, quiz, or having them participate in a quick activity. Audience involvement is key. It will not only hold their attention, but by re-framing your presentation from monologue to dialogue, the level of formality will drop (along with your nerves).
4. Accept imperfection
Cirque du Soleil rarely has a perfect show...and (sorry to break it to you) you will rarely have a perfect presentation/speech. And that's ok! The odd "um" or "ah" is not going to ruin your career; speaking slightly fast will not make or break a promotion and fidgeting with your hands will not lose an investor. Allow yourself to make mistakes, as it's a natural part of the learning process.
5. Practice, practice, practice
The #1 way to reduce nerves? *drum roll*.....practice! That's right, the more you practice speaking in front of an audience; the more you practice delivering your content; the more you practice your body language, the easier public speaking becomes. It really is that simple.
Thanks and until next time...
- Speak for Success Team