Coping with Nervousness
Approaching a stranger in a cocktail party or having a dialogue with a stranger for a two-hour train ride is manageable but speaking in front of an audience is a lot of trouble to some. Everyone would probably agree that public speaking is not a menial task. In fact, it could make one feel totally stressed, especially when doing it the first time.
My public speaking experiences are limited to school scenarios, and yet I get the thrill down my spine each time I stand in front of my classmates. If I would rate myself at the scale of 1-10 with 10 as the highest, I would give myself a 4 because I really find it difficult to relax in such situations. In fact, I experience mixed emotions each time the professor asks me to speak in front.
Every time I face an audience, I feel as if my voice box shrinks and produces a wavering voice. Normally, I have a steady tone when speaking to my family and friends but during public speaking, the confident voice somewhat lurks behind, and all of a sudden I can hardly control its volume. Most often, I seem to have a hard time hearing myself and feel at a loss for words. Aside from this, I also experience dry mouth, shaking of knees, and in most cases, wet palms. Although these feelings are normal during public speaking, I would like to overcome them for doing so would make me a better person, and would make a good leader out of me.
Matt Eventoff (as cited in Travis 2008) gives three pieces of advice to conquer public speaking fears and make a good speech. He states that being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills one can have. It determines one’s capacity as a leader, and identifies if a plan would be a success or a failure.
To deliver a successful speech, Eventoff advises us to “slow down.” Sometimes one has a tendency to try filling in all silent gaps in a speech. He explains that although we may feel that these pauses are too long, they are not totally distracting to the audience. Therefore, one should feel free to take brief pauses, sip some water, or take a breath to slow down oneself.
Another tip he gives is to “smile.” He notes that smiling could help improve confidence. It especially helps if the audience would return the smile. But Eventoff cautions us not to fake the smile. The audience would know if the smile is genuine for it can reflect on our face. To succeed in doing this, he says we should think of some happy thought. Taking this advice, I believe that the happy thought is the chance to get to meet different people in that particular situation, being able to share with them what we know, and interacting with them later on.
Third, the author tells us to “stay brief.”Keeping one’s speech simple will help for easy comprehension and focus. Also, there is a saying that “less is more” thus keeping speech simple and not using highfalutin words or giving baffling examples will not help make one’s point clear.
Applying these simple tips to my own public speaking experience in the future could really help me improve my style. The next time I get a chance to speak in front of the public, be it my classmates, my professors, or my future clients, I would keep in mind to “slow down, smile, and make it brief.”
Wright, Travis. (2008). Three steps to better public speaking. Retrieved September 7, 2008, from http://cultivategreatness.com/2008/05/07/3-steps-to-better-public-speaking#more-735