Tips in overcoming nervousness in Public Speaking
Overcoming nervousness in public speaking is not easy but it is a little comforting to know that it is but normal to feel nervous when speaking in front of a crowd or an audience. Even those who’ve mastered the art of public speaking could still, one way or another, feel those romping butterflies in their stomachs. The irony though is not to avoid the nervousness, since it is inevitable, but how to overcome it before it gets the best out of you, swallow you whole, and ruin your speech before you could even begin speaking.
The following tips will help you overcome nervousness in public speaking.
1. Know and understand that it is normal to feel nervous. It is a natural occurrence in one’s body. It is ok. Everyone gets that nerve-wracking feeling. Though it sounds selfish and a little cruel, it’s a good feeling knowing you’re not the only one feeling terrible. That is one witty and tricky way in overcoming nervousness in public speaking.
2. Calm yourself through some simple relaxation routines or techniques before your speech or public encounter.
The breathe-in-breathe-out exercise is the most popular. It calms down the body and mind, and at some point, the spirit. Stretching those muscles, especially face muscles will help. Since it’s your face your audience see most often in duration of a speech, relax it. Example: exaggerate the sounds of the five vowel sounds – A, E, I, O, U. You could also try placing your palms on your cheeks and moving them in a circular motion. Try squeezing stress balls, or walking back and forth at the backstage, visiting the comfort room (it might help in giving you “comfort”.) But remember, some relaxation routines may not work for everyone. Some may work for you; some may not, so study yourself and know those that will relax you. It may be as cheesy as a smile from your girlfriend or boyfriend, a text message from your mother, or a tap on the shoulder from your bestfriend. Try anything possible; that is if it will bring you to a point of relaxation.
3. Convert the nervousness into a positive energy.
Almost always, nervousness ruins everything, and since it will always linger, why not turn it into something useful. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Why not make that nervous feeling into something that would make you feel excited, something that will keep you going, keep your blood and adrenalin rushing. Example: excitement is a good conversion of nervousness. Without excitement, your speech will most probably be a boredom. So instead of bearing with your shaky cold hands, trembling knees and cheeks which will definitely spoil your moment, convert those into jerky gestures that convey excitement.
4. Never tell your audience “I’m feeling nervous right now.”
Though it’s true, admitting and announcing it will not do any help; it will just make matters worse. Your honesty in this part will work against you. There’s no need of such confession. It will also crush down your credibility as a speaker. If you are determined in overcoming nervousness in public speaking,
5. Consider your audience irrelevant.
Though there is a general rule to have a good rapport with your audience, in this case of overcoming nervousness, they should be considered nonexistent. Sometimes people feel calm when alone. Have you ever heard of this mind set: Consider your audience as just a bunch of coconut husks. Sounds silly but it will serve you well if you have a good imagination. You will feel more nervous if you keep on thinking that your audience is a bunch of, say, highly educated, very critical professionals waiting for you to commit mistakes, or who are actually counting your mistakes. The term there that would trigger nervousness is insecurity. So to eradicate this insecurity, consider them not in existence.
6. Don’t look directly into your audience’s eyes.
Again, this may sound ironic since building a connection with your audience is vital, but if you want to beat that ugly feeling that kills you on stage, then don’t. Looking straight into someone else’s eyes creates this uncomfortable feeling which may eventually lead to nervousness. Look at the space in between the eyes instead, it makes the same effect of good audience connection but without the uneasiness. Try this witty trick, your audience will not notice it, nor see the difference.
7. Be confident in yourself and in your speech.
We could consider self confidence as an antidote to nervousness. Another word synonymous to self confidence is courage. It takes enough courage to stand in front of a thousand, hard-to-please people, more so, to deliver a speech to them. So before grabbing the microphone, save as much self confidence and courage as you can. Think uplifting thoughts. Think positive thoughts. Even happy thoughts. That does the trick when Tinker Bell wants a human to fly with her. But thinking alone is not enough, it should be coupled with actions, and the important action you should do to extract such confidence to get you going on that stage or pulpit is tip No.8.
8. Prepare and prepare well.
It has always been said: If ye are prepared ye shall not fear. And take note, fear is the closest cousin of nervousness. They go along pretty well. So prepare weeks or even months before your public speaking engagement. Read your piece out loud in front of a mirror or with someone who could bring out constructive criticisms and encouragement.
If you follow these simple tips, for sure you will be successful in overcoming nervousness in public speaking!