Remaining Calm Under Public Speaking Pressure

In the wise words of George Jessel, “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”

Halloween may be over, but the frights remain for many people who are asked to present at a lunch and learn, speak at a board meeting or sit on a panel. Public speaking ranks among people’s top fears, and often this unease creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While you can’t eliminate your responsibility to speak in public, there are ways you can manage it. Here are some tips for remaining calm under pressure:

Get in the Mindset
Start with a mental game by recognizing two things you know to be true:

  • You are the one that has been called in to speak, because you are the expert.
  • You know more about the situation than anyone listening, therefore have confidence in your knowledge.

Set Your Cues
In advance of your presentation, write out your first line. Having a prewritten starting note gives you the ability to look out into your audience instead of down at your notes and will engage the audience. In doing so, you project confidence and give your audience the sense that you are giving them the attention they deserve, and they should return the favor.

Watch Your Breath
Finally, the easiest and most reliable way to ease the tension is to take intentional breaths. Harvard University found that these breathes can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure while calming the “fight or flight” chemical response that happens in your brain. They can also ensure you have enough air to project your entire sentence, making your speech easier.

So, the next time you have to give a presentation in front of a group, remember these tips and tricks. They will help ease your nerves and make your presentation more successful. And, who knows? You may even start to enjoy public speaking!

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