Do you ever get the shivers when speaking in public? You are in good company. Even the most accomplished speakers and performers admit to getting nervous in front of a crowd. Performance anxiety is a natural, almost unavoidable reaction, so you may just as well learn to use it to your advantage. Here are some tips on how you can channel that nervous, distracting energy into positive, focused energy.
1) Anchor your mind in a strong and passionate purpose.
Why are you giving this presentation? What motivates you? Why does it matter? What do you want people to feel and do as a result of your speech? Keep this in mind all the time!
2) Know your stuff. Use all the time you normally spend worrying about your presentation for actual practice. Rehearse in front of a mirror, a friend, or video yourself. Painful, but you will become a calmer and more convincing speaker.
3) Focus on the audience. Make and keep eye-contact with the audience as an antidote to getting self-conscious and self-absorbed. Think of all your energy – body language, attention, breath, voice – as directed forward, towards the audience.
4) Adopt confident body language. Standing tall and grounded, owning your space and taking your time will make you look and feel more confident. Not convinced? Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on the subject!
5) Let the steam out. Breathing and moving your body are great ways to get rid of the excess adrenaline trying to shortcircuit your system. Go for a brisk walk before your presentation. If you need to sit and wait for your turn, wriggle your toes in your shoes, tense and release your legs, fists or stomach muscles. And breathe. Never forget to breathe.
Good luck with your next public speaking opportunity!