If there’s one foundational skill you need to deliver a great speech every time, it’s the ability to relax, so you can function at your best. Relaxation is the key. If you’re nervous or worried and you can’t control it, you cannot perform at your best.
A little nervousness is good. You want to get the adrenaline flowing and then use this energy to infuse your speech with vitality and enthusiasm. But when it’s time to deliver, you’ve got to be able to perform and knowing how to relax on demand is the secret.
You can use all the tips, techniques, methods, and strategies taught by the pros and still perform far below your potential if you can’t get yourself to calm down. Everyone tells you to relax. But can you relax when you’re about to take the stage?
The real secret to making an outstanding presentation to any size of crowd is to be able to trigger a state of relaxation before and throughout your speech.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up and be human. Audiences respect that and they don’t expect perfection. What they do want is to hear your story, learn from your experience and discover the insights on the topic you’re going to discuss.
Don’t make it a ‘do or die’ situation. It’s just a presentation. It’s an opportunity to leave people with something that can make them better off than they were before. It’s not going to cost you your job if your performance doesn’t qualify you as International Toastmaster of the Year.
You want to make an impact. But don’t put pressure on yourself by looking at as your one big chance to create global peace forever.
Prepare your speech in advance. Review it. Rehearse it. And then forget about it. That’s what many pros do. They prepare their speech, and then tuck it away until the time comes to speak. I find it’s best to visualize your performance and mentally rehearse your presentation the night before. Just see it through in your minds eye and make it a great performance.
On the big day, stay light and relaxed. Go for a workout or a swim before your speech. Exercise is great for the body and soul. Practice breathing exercises.
You can do these at any time, but I find they’re most effective just before you speak. Deep breathing gets the oxygen flowing to the brain and every cell of your body. It’s invigorating and relaxing at the same time. It helps you gain clarity so you can perform at your best.
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