Whether small board meeting or conference key-note, sales pitch or wedding speech, we always want to make a lasting impression. We want to appear confident, eloquent and witty, we want our message to be remembered for the right reasons.
History is full of inspirational speeches. These inspirational speeches have come from the mouths and minds of some of the most intelligent, charismatic, spontaneous and miraculous people in the world. We all know what a great speech sounds and feels like, so, when the time comes where we have to make a speech of our own, it can be a little intimidating.
Even the best speakers suffer from nerves, doubt and confidence crashes, no matter how experienced or revered they may be. The secret is finding a way to handle those feelings and how to engineer them to work in your favour. As someone who performs in front of people all the time, I can tell you that those feelings never completely leave you, but I know what techniques work for me.
So, whether you are new to public speaking or not, and struggling with how to deliver your best, here are a few mindful approaches to help your presentation go smoothly.
There are several direct benefits of meditation on your public speaking. Anxiety, when it comes to addressing an audience in any way, is commonly due to a building up of self-doubt. You spend days and weeks before the event beating yourself up with speculation. What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not funny? What if something breaks or goes wrong?
Short, daily meditations in the days leading up to the speech can go a long way to quietening anxiety.
Meditation might also help you feel more relaxed and spontaneous during your speech. This is very attractive in a speaker. The skill of meditation helps to orient you ‘in the moment’. A perfect state for encouraging witty flourishes and reactions.
This is a big one for me. I find that the less prepared I am, the worse the butterflies are. If I go into a meeting, pitch or public address feeling that I do not have all my bases covered, then nerves are a problem.
Don’t wing it! Preparation is everything. This means knowing you have the knowledge to deal with questions, knowing your speech inside out and having confidence in your ability to handle all of the possible things that could go wrong. Of course, this is easier with experience, which is preparation in itself.
Going into a situation knowing that you have done everything possible to prepare for the moment should mean that you have addressed everything that is under your control. The rest is not within your control, so try not to worry about that stuff.
3. Harness Your Anxieties
Although nerves are uncomfortable, they are also useful. The nerves you feel immediately before a speech are a catalyst for the adrenaline that follows. So, don’t wish them all away!
However, as you may experience, too many nerves are crippling. When they are getting in the way, it might be prudent to apply a little knowledge and logic. If it is not your first time, then you know that the nerves are temporary, remind yourself of that. In my experience they disappear as soon as I am faced with an audience.
What also helps is to focus on the moment beyond the end of your speech. I have heard myself say, ‘It’ll be done in 20 minutes time’, on many occasions, as a measure of self-reassurance. Distracting your feelings in this way can be very helpful.
But whatever nerves you have left, use them to really begin your speech with energy and enthusiasm.
Everything is easier when you relax. Fact. What triggers relaxation for you? Perhaps a pre-speech workout? A hot shower? A stress ball, even? Whatever it is, make sure you use it to enter your speech with your heart pumping at a reasonable pace!
Having said that, these things may not be useful in the moments directly before your speech. So, breathe. Close your eyes, let go of any thoughts of what you are about to do, and breathe slowly and deeply. Concentrate on the breath, feel your heart slow right down. All your preperation is done, all that matters now is starting from a place of stability and relaxation. Then open your eyes, smile and walk out to that audience with confidence!
By Chris Thomson
Looking for some more mind clearing ideas before the big speech? Try this: Running to Clear Your Mind
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