Frequently clients come to see me because they have a fear of public speaking. The physical and psychological impact of uncontrolled fear can impair performance and prevent us from presenting ourselves in the most impressive way. Speech anxiety is common and many people are held back by it as they journey through life. This could be preventing them from reaching their true potential, getting that dream job or taking a great business opportunity. Many students don’t get all the answers they need in lessons because they are nervous about speaking in front of other people. The opinions of other people and what they think of us is important to us, especially when we are trying to impress them. Try the following techniques the next time you have an audience in front of you to enhance your performance and enjoy it more!
1. Prepare. Make notes and revise the information you are presenting. The more you know about the subject, the more confident you will feel speaking about it. Remember that in most cases you will know more about the subject than the audience, so you’re the expert!
2. Imitate. Think about people you have seen that performed well or a time you watched a presentation that you enjoyed. What was it about the way the person presented the material that impressed and engaged you? Use some of their techniques!
3. Rehearse. You can physically practice your presentation in front of a pretend audience, especially if you want to make sure that your material makes sense when you say it out loud. However, for some people this actually makes them more nervous! If this is you, try mental rehearsal by using your imagination with visualisation techniques. This is called self-hypnosis and a lot of sports players do it.
4. Acknowledge. Accept your anxiety and view it as a positive force for motivation and energy to perform well. Try turning your anxiety into positive excitement about what you are going to say to your audience. No two presentations are the same, you will have a new unique experience!
5. Exercise and eat. Any vigorous exercise should be done well in advance of the performance as intensely exercising a couple of hours beforehand will increase adrenaline levels making it harder to stay calm. Yoga and stretching on the day of the presentation will help calm and focus your mind. Eat a low GI snack before your presentation to keep blood sugar levels stable as a drop in blood sugar can trigger panic attacks. Finally, avoid stimulating foods and drinks such as coffee and energy drinks as these too will make it harder to stay cool, calm and collected.