Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Getting Rid of Speaking Jitters

Here are a few tips for calming those jitters before you deliver a presentation or any type of public address. This is from my soon-to-be released book Speaking Your Way to Success, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Do the hokey pokey. If you have a private spot before you speak, do the hokey pokey, jump around, or do anything that will help you release energy. If you don’t have a private spot, flex your calves, make fists and release, and anything else to get rid of the adrenaline going through your body. Remember, some jitters is good; it will help you to present excitedly and passionately.

Start by taking a deep breath. Before beginning to speak, glance at your notes, look at the audience, take a deep breath from your diaphram, and begin. Imagine yourself being fabulous.

Stand tall. Spread your weight evenly by placing your feet slightly apart, a little less than shoulder width). This will keep you from swaying from side to side and allow you to stand confidently.

Face your audience and look them in the eyes. If you think that’s too painful, imagine your audience sitting in their underwear or look at their foreheads instead of directly into their eyes. When you look directly at people, they’ll trust you. (Don’t look at the floor; there’s nothing to see there.)

Speak loudly enough so everyone can hear you. Your voice should be clear, even those in the back of the room. Learn of the size of the room beforehand so you can determine if you need a microphone.

Use an appropriate pace. You want to speak with a good pace that reveals your excitement and passion about your topic, but don’t speak too fast. You also will want to speak so that everyone in the room can hear, but don’t deafen them!

Create a comfortable silence. Silence (or pauses) can be powerful. Use pauses to emphasize key points, give yourself time to think, emphasize key points, change your pitch, or let your audience digest the impact of something you said. Pauses make the message before and after much more important.

Use your style to your advantage! Be yourself, and don’t try to emulate speakers you’ve seen or heard, no matter how good they were. If you’re reading from a script or notes, be sure to look up at the audience and don’t lapse into a monotonous recitation.

Let your personality shine. Don’t think you have to be ultra serious; lighten up. Let your personality show. No matter how serious your talk is, be yourself, use appropriate humor, and share stories from your experience, and laugh at yourself. Laugh at your mistakes. If you drop the microphone, bump into a chair, forgive yourself and make light of it.


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