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How To Eliminate Speaking Jitters: Eight Sure-Fire Strategies To Help You Speak More Naturally
Do you avoid giving speeches because the stress drives you up the wall? Do you give speeches, but hate every minute of it? Do you speak well, yet are held back from reaching your potential from the fear and self-doubt you experience? There is help for anyone who suffers from stage fright. Here are eight of my favorite stress-stopping techniques for speakers.
1. Don't Call Your Event "A Speech". Instead, Frame the Talk As A Coaching Session, Workshop or Class. Why? "Giving a speech" feels like a big deal, pressure-packed situation. Also, few audiences want to be spoken to or at by a "speech maker", but almost everyone enjoys the spirited give and take of a conversation.
2. Use The Overkill Principle, From Sports and School. If you have a school test or sports competition coming up, what made you feel relatively comfortable and confident going into the event? Overdoing your preparation with extremely hard practice and training. If you barely practiced, you had a genuine reason to be very nervous--you were NOT ready! The same is true for a speech.
3. Set Speaking Sub-goals. A speaking event should also be a learning experience for you, the speaker. One major goal is of course, to please, motivate, educate and move the audience. Try some new things, take some risks and make sure YOU learn from the event.
4. Practice All The Time, In Every Venue Imaginable. Use your speech material as you have casual conversations with people the weeks before your talk, in the coffee shop, lobby, stores, malls, etc. They won't know you are practicing your speech. You'll be able to practice the pronunciations, phrasing, inflection, timing, jokes and all else, just as you will do it from the platform.
5. Wear Your Most Confident Outfit and Accessories. Go ahead, be superstitious. Wear what makes you feel good, natural and energetic. Stay away from outfits that lower your self-esteem and confidence level. To be confident, look confident. Simple to do, but powerful.
6. Accept That Nervousness Is A Natural Part Of Any Performing. Long time well-known performers across many venues STILL get very nervous before their performances, yet they manage to give very creditable performances, time and again.
7. Know That You Can Perform Well And Be Very Nervous, Yet The Audience Will Never Know. You can be terrified inside, but if you go about your speaking, you can completely hide your fear from the audience. The few ways the audience will have hints that your nerves are appearing are when your voice continually cracks, your hands, arms and legs shake visibly or you stutter and stammer (assuming you don't do that naturally). Aside from that, they may never know. Act as if you are confident, and quite often, you will begin to feel confident.
8. Make the Audience Do Some of the Work. Instead of YOU speaking the entire time, give your audience some tasks. Ask them questions, give them a quiz, have them discover answers to tasks in small groups. Not only will the audience be more engaged and learn better, but you can take a break and gather your thoughts as they do their "homework". Try it, you'll like it.
Remember, even top speaking pros get nervous before and during their speeches. Collect stress-busting strategies like these. Observe experienced speakers and see what they do to reduce their nerves. Embrace your stress and it will serve you well.
For a comprehensive overview of your abilities as a speaker you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete strengths and weaknesses. Go to the Procoach website for a free, easy-to-take 65-item presentation skills assessment tool you can score right on the spot. You can use this as a guide in creating your own presentation coaching program, or as the basis for a coaching program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA.
About the Author: Bill Cole, MS, MA, a professional speaker and leading authority on presentation coaching, is founder and CEO of Procoach Systems. He is a Wall Of Fame Honoree, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. Visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com, or call 408-294-2776.