With all the articles written on nervousness in public speaking, I thought I would approach this topic from a different perspective. Everyone gets nervous in public speaking (or should). There is a reason why it is man’s greatest fear. The question I would like to ask you is what is the one thing that concerns you the most when you are scheduled to speak?
Your answer cannot be dying while public speaking because that has never happened and I don’t think you will be the 1st one to get that title. Yes, every once in a while a performer dies on stage but that is due to old age or heart conditions and is not related to nervousness.
No matter how you answered that question, it all boils down to one thing: you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. Now, the next question is what could happen that you think would make you look foolish?
- Forgetting your material.
- Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
- Your mind going blank.
You may have another answer to add to that list, but those three are probably the most common responses. What is fascinating about the reasons we get nervous is that if you know your material inside and out, the chances of any of them happening are much less likely than if you do not know and have not rehearsed your content well in advance.
Yes, you may forget your material. That, in itself, is not a reason to stop you from public speaking though. If you forget or if your mind goes blank, simply stop, take a breath, admit that you lost your place, and then quickly find a spot to resume. Audiences are most forgiving. (If this is happening frequently in your presentation, however, then you don’t know your material and you have no reason to be speaking to an audience.)
Have you never heard a professional speaker, TV news broadcaster, or radio announcer make a mistake? If you can honestly say No, then you were just not aware of the occurrence because it does happen and it happens more often than you think. If you were aware of a mistake, on the other hand, did it lessen your opinion of the speaker or the announcer? Of course not. There is no such thing as perfection in public speaking or in any other live venue for that matter.
Instead of focusing on your fear of public speaking, why not concentrate on knowing your material by practicing it out loud not once, not twice, but many, many times. Then you can approach the lectern confident that you will do the best job that you can do.
It is amazing what will happen to your fear if you concentrate on the positive and not the negative. In doing so, you will never look foolish even if you do make a mistake.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, group and corporate training in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit her website at Voice Dynamic and watch as Nancy describes the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.
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