The good news is, you’ve been asked to give a speech. The bad news is public speaking scares you silly. Well, fear not. Regardless of occasion or audience, we’ll make a confident orator of you yet. Here are tips to de-stress speech-making.
* Chin up. You wouldn’t have been asked to give a speech if you weren’t a pretty awesome person, right? Lean on that knowledge. Trust yourself to do it right. Because other people clearly do. Even if the speech is a class assignment, give it with pride. Don’t be arrogant, but do have faith in your abilities.
* Practice . You already did? Practice some more. Know your speech verbatim. Prepared is confident. Speak in the mirror. Ask friends to listen and give feedback. Say it into a microphone–mics are often the scariest part of speech-making.
* Look your fear in the eye. It’s the fears we don’t examine that terrify us most. What about speech-making fills you with dread? Saying something dumb? Forgetting what you were going to say? Stammering? Making an idiot of yourself in front of your friends?
* Now visualize worst-case scenario. I’m serious. When you call panic out, you take away its power. Imagine the most horrible thing that could happen. Your classmates jeer, or, worse, mock you behind your back. You fall off the stage. You throw up or wet your pants. Don’t laugh. I worry about that!
* Now reach inside yourself. So one of these horrible things does happen? Well, so…? It would be embarrassing. But it won’t hurt you. Nor will it change you, except perhaps for the better. I was always easily intimidated. Then I got a choir solo (like a speech only worse). Every time I sang, “Renee” would laugh and whisper. Finally, I said to her “if you think you can sing it better, please do. Otherwise, shut up.” I shocked myself and everyone else. The teacher said “She’s right. Let’s move on.” We did, and Renee shut up. Finding my chutzpah reservoir showed me I could speak up and survive.
* Imagine the audience as friends. People like Renee are few. Most people want you to do well. They admire you (or are just glad it’s not them up there). Ignore those inner voices that say people think you’re dumb. That’s just self-consciousness brought on by nerves. Even if they are, you can’t know and it doesn’t matter. Even if they are laughing, don’t let it bother you. They’re just jealous and petty.
* Harness the butterflies. Your stomach is in knots? That’s adrenaline and perfectly normal in stressful situations. Use it to embolden you to speak. Butterflies are also a kind of limit switch. They keep you focused and humble. Confidence is good. Over-confidence is awkward.
* Push past the fear. Said differently, just do it. Open your mouth and trust the words to come. They will, if you relax, breathe slowly and allow them to. When I let Renee get to me, I’d choke up. Once I told my self-doubt in the person of Renee, to take a hike, I could sing without fear.
Trust that awesomeness inside of you.