There’s no greater irony than a public speaker who gets nervous. In theory, a public speaker is confident enough to change the lives of his audience. In reality, every first timer will always have a bad case of nerves. Those who try to get into public speaking usually do so to get over their fear of speaking in public. They usually succeed, and they’re given a chance to own the stage. When that happens for the first time, though, the fears start crawling back.
So how do you calm yourself down? How do you get in the zone? There are plenty of ways to do so.
Before the speech, try to stretch. When you’re nervous, your muscles tense up without you knowing it. Stretch and shake your muscles to help you ease up. When your blood starts flowing freely again you should feel a little better. Even better, exercise before you drive to your speaking venue.
Another thing that you don’t notice when you’re nervous is that your breath starts going out of rhythm. You’ll realize it when you look at how you’re sighing and gasping for air. If you start feeling nervous, check your breathing. Chances are you’re exhaling more air than you’re taking in. Start doing breathing exercises. For starters, breathe deeply and hold for a few seconds before exhaling. For a better effect, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Another symptom of anxiety is excessive perspiration. If you’ve been nervous hours before you take the stage, you’ll probably get dehydrated before you even walk to the podium. Drink a lot of water before the speech. If you’re a coffee drinker, try not to drink any coffee before your speech.
It also makes sense to go around and have quick chats with your audience. This way, you will feel like speaking in front of acquaintances at the very least and not total strangers. It’s all a matter of perspective. Your audience counts on you to make them feel better about themselves. Don’t take this as pressure on yourself, think of it as motivation to motivate them.
During the Speech
When the time finally comes, just start speaking. Once the first word comes out of your mouth, everything else should follow. If you’re up to it, start with a laugh. Follow it up with a joke. If you want to feel more comfortable, do a self-deprecating joke. When your audience starts giggling, you will start feeling a lot more at ease. Besides, the longer you stay in silence the more awkward it’ll be.
Once you’ve hit the ground running with your speech, keep your notes in mind. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stray away from your topic a little bit. It is, in fact, encouraged as long as it reinforces your initial point. If you did talk to your audience before your speech, you can cue in on a few things on that conversation. That makes your speech a little more personal, which makes it more effective.