Do you know what is one of the greatest human fears? Public speaking!! We all feel what it does to our bodies; sweaty palms, shaky hands and knees, shallow and rapid breathing, a strong heartbeat, increased perspiration, constant lip licking, shuffling feet and the vocal evidence of “voice trembling.” How can we reduce the level of anxiety and deal with the situation in a calm and dignified manner?
We may be required to exorcise those nerves whilst appearing in Court or presenting a speech for an audience and the following “tried and tested” tips are useful for any public speaking event:
- Take the focus off yourself: Concentrate on the message and find freedom in just being the messenger.
- Prepare thoroughly: Make sure the subject is clearly understood. Take into account what the audience already knows and what is the hoped end result. When you’re sure you have material that will benefit the audience and have it clearly in mind, your desire to “speak” will overshadow the anxiety felt about the delivery.
- Introduction: Give special attention to the introduction. Know how you are going to start, once your begin to speak, nervousness will largely subside. Before beginning to speak, take a moment to look at your audience, pick out a friendly face and smile.
- Practice the delivery aloud: This action will provide confidence that thoughts can be put into words. The more time that is given to practice will build up memory patterns that can be readily activated when presenting. Visualise your audience.
- Identify physical symptoms of lack of composure: for example – abnormally high pitched or trembling voice, repeatedly clear the throat, speak too rapidly, shuffling the feet, playing with pens, glasses, rings or notes, clutching the speakers stand or rigidly holding hands at the side of the body. These can be conquered with diligent effort to bring under control.
- Accept nervousness may not disappear totally, even with experience: Use the surge of adrenaline that causes symptoms of nervousness to speak with feeling.
- We are our own worst critic: nerves are caused by concern about what others think of us, and their judgments of us – whether we ‘measure up’. Why give others “perceived” judgments so much weight?
- Its not life or death – keep it in perspective!
Learn to be poised and controlled and to speak with appropriate feeling in daily life, this will assist in providing more confidence at the podium. Its a skill, that takes daily practice.
If you would like more helpful hints, please subscribe to my fortnightly blog at www.sydneybarrister.net.au or contact me at Elizabeth Street Chambers on (02) 9336 5399
- Cartoon sourced from www.panicfreepublicspeaking.com.au