How do I handle nerves when I get up and speak?
First be aware that it is okay to be nervous. In fact when you learn to control your nerves you can use them to provide the WOW factor you need in your presentations and in your speaking. Everyone gets nervous even those top speakers you are probably admiring from afar. The secret is accepting the nerves – not letting them overwhelm you and as I said, using them to take your presentation and speaking to the next level.
Breathing is essential to speaking – it is also a great tool in controlling your nerves. Taking two or three deep breaths before getting up and speaking will help you be in control. I call it centring. Those deep breaths spread the oxygen through the body and gives you a sense of calm – being centred in your body and being in control.
A lot of our nerves arise from a fear of the unknown – we are not used to getting up and speaking and are not sure what to expect when we do. By taking every opportunity to speak we are becoming aware of what happens when we do speak, we are getting a feel for how the audiences react and we are also getting a feel on how to control the nerves.
Visualisation is also a great tool to overcome the nerves. Using similar techniques that top speakers, sports people and actors use we can work through our presentations – working on our mind to anticipate the outcome of our speaking and presentation – to visualise success. What we tell our brain to expect is what our brain will expect.
How do I organise my information?
This is a problem we all face at one time or another. If you are like me you love to research your topic and the internet can be very bright shiny object leading you all over the place and before you know it you have heaps of information but you realise you only have a limited time frame to present. It is not all going to fit – what do you do?
A good guideline – you can really only talk about three main points in a ten minute presentation. So you need to filter that large amount of information into the three most relevant pieces of information that support your message. A little tip I use is to think of going into a meeting with client and I find that instead of the ten minutes I originally had I now only have three minutes – what is the one most important piece of information I need to share – that will become my first point. I do the same exercise twice more and that will give me the three main point that I want to speak about.
These three points become the body of your presentation – out of this you develop your opening and you conclusion.
How do I stop umming and ahing?
Umming and ahing are vocal pauses for thought. When we are not sure what we are going to say next what often happens is that we drop our jaw and sound comes out as an um or er or ah…
The best way to prevent this is to close the mouth, breathe in through the nose take a pause to think, then open the mouth and speak. Not always easy to start with but the more you practice the better it will become.
Have someone listen to you speak and make a note of each time you have that vocal pause for thought. Slowly you will find that those vocal pauses will get less and less. Instead you will find you will have powerful pauses that are adding impact to your presentation and your credibility will begin to grow.
Trish @ Trischel
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