Why Public Speaking Nerves Are Good For You

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All the talk about eliminating your nervousness, putting a stop to nervousness, or defeating your nervousness, misses the boat on one basic fundamental: nervousness is a bonus. It can give you an edge that is an asset if you learn how to control it.

Early in my career, one of my clients disagreed with me about that statement. This woman, who was marketing herself as a professional speaker, had been in business for 2 years. Had I been quicker in my response, I might have pointed out that she had had only 3 guest speaking engagements in those 2 years. In my opinion, her lack of nervousness was the reason for her few invitations.

The secret is to exploit your nervousness, allowing it to work for you and not against you and that is only possible if you learn how to control it. For many people, nervousness is controlling them; thus, they have no control over their delivery. They spit out their words as quickly as possible and thus are not communicating with their audience. Essentially they are talking at them instead of to them.

Because of this lack of control, these same people wrongly believe that the answer is to eliminate their nervousness. I do not agree.

All great performers, musicians, singers, athletes and public speakers are nervous. No matter how many times they have performed, they experience nervousness. According to NHL lore, Glenn Hall, considered by some to be the best hockey goalie ever, vomited before each game.

Some years ago I saw an interview with the world-renowned contralto Maureen Forrester. The subject of this 60 Minutes program was nervousness. When asked if she ever wished she had been a stay-at-home mom, Ms. Forrester answered that every time she walked on stage she wished she was a stay-at-home mom! This woman was paid thousands of dollars per performance and yet she admitted to being nervous.

In my opinion, the best means for controlling nervousness is to learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm. In doing so, you will find that your upper body is relaxed while experiencing that wonderful rush of adrenaline. And that is what can give you an edge. That is what can make your delivery more dynamic, more exhilarating.

Unfortunately, not only are most people lazy or shallow breathers, but at the lectern, they never even think to breathe, which creates breathlessness. So I find that for these people, their shallow breathing increases their stress; their nervousness adds to their stress; and, their breathlessness (caused by lack of air) further aggravates their stress. Bottom line in this case is stress caused by both poor and lack of breathing which increases nervousness.

One of my former clients was scheduled to speak at a conference to several hundred realtors. This well-spoken lawyer was so frantic that he stammered when he explained his upcoming engagement to me. I worked with this man on two occasions. The day arrived; he breathed; and, he gave a wonderful presentation. In fact, he enjoyed the experience so much that he phoned immediately upon his closing to share his success with me. Here was a man that a week prior had stammered just thinking about his upcoming engagement!

Stop looking to eliminate your nervousness by means of quick tips or tricks and instead learn to breathe. Not only will you discover a marvelous control over your delivery at the lectern but you will also notice a reduction in the stress in your life, both professionally and personally.

Nervousness is a good thing if you allow it to work for you and not against you! The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private and group sessions as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. Visit her website at: http://www.voicedynamic.com/specialaccess1.htm

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