Imagine waiting to go on stage. Butterflies flutter in your stomach. You
feel sick. You get hot. Your heart begins to race. Your breathing becomes
shallower and quicker…
Once upon a time making noise in a clear open space meant being discovered
and eaten by bigger carnivores, so humans learned to hide and be quiet.
Public speaking is standing in a clear open space making a racket – it is
natural to feel fear.
Lots of people have never been on a stage before. Being elevated above the
audience shifts the centre of gravity and angle of vision, so of course
it’s going to be nerve wracking. But it’s still easier than you may have
been led to believe.
Practice the following to start experiencing the process:
Find a stage, (perhaps a school or village hall will oblige) and stand on
it, walk around and see the room in full. Feel the difference between being
at ground level and being elevated. Now that you know what it feels like,
you don’t have to panic not-knowing-what-to-expect.
Speak louder than necessary in a public place and get used to others
looking at you. Try shouting your order in a coffee shop – and then loudly
tell everyone why.
When speaking do:-
Draw them to you with a smile, arms akimbo with hands upwards as if giving
alms. We want to listen to someone who displays friendliness not someone
looking at the floor with their hands wedged in their pockets.
Time your presentation. If the rate of delivery is too fast, you may come
across as panicky, or they will miss what you are saying. Too slow and they
might fall asleep. For British audiences an average of three words per
second (180 p/minute) is ideal, adjust according to the local
dialect/language/country you are in.
Sound check. If you are using technology, ensure that it’s all working – and you know how to work it.
When your mouth gets dry, moisturise by gently running the tongue over your
bottom teeth, not by drinking fluids.
Make the mistake of introducing yourself at the beginning. Be introduced by
someone else, or remind them who you are after opening with an interesting
question or statement. Intrigue them first, then reveal your expertise.
Start late – arrange an understudy to begin in case there’s an emergency
and you can’t get there on time.
Have the air-con on too high. It embarrasses women- think about it.
Run over. The audience have family commitments/transport to catch and you
definitely won’t make many sales if they’ve left.
Now think about having a first date with someone you really, really like.
Imagine waiting for them to arrive. You get butterflies. Your heart begins
to race and your breathing becomes shallow, moving up to your chest. You
get hot, very hot…
Fear and excitement have the same physiological effect. Don’t be scared. Be