When you feel anxious before your speech, there’s a simple trick that can bring some welcome relief: constructive self-talk. Instead of fretting over worst-case fears, or just trying to “gut it out” and ignore the horrible anxious nerves, try talking yourself down with the phrases below. They’ve been proven to help restore focus, mend confidence and build positive energy.
“This anxiety feels terrible, but I can manage it.”
The first step to managing anxiety is to acknowledge and accept it. Just like any other problem in life, there’s a solution to your anxiety. Start by asking yourself what might cause the apprehensions, and work your way out from there. Are you afraid your audience won’t understand your presentation? Then prepare an easy-to-follow outline. Do you feel your voice or manner will bore your listeners? Then review your talk, work out where you should vary your volume, pitch, or speed to add emphasis, and practice until you’re comfortable, and confident of how you sound. We humans have conquered much of the natural world. You can conquer your anxiety!
“Breathe and stay calm.”
When anxiety starts creeping in, your body tenses up and you tend to take quick, shallow breaths. That makes the heart beat faster, and contributes to physical feelings of anxiety, and more negative thoughts. Break the pattern: Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose, then and exhale through your mouth. Counting your breaths out loud may help you focus on this relaxing process and divert your attention from discouraging mental scenarios.
“I am more confident than I think I am.”
Yes, you are! In a public speaking study, participants who were asked to give an extemporaneous speech, and then to rate their own degree of nervousness. The researchers compared the results with the audience’s ratings of the same talks. Results showed that the speakers over-estimated how nervous they appeared to their audiences. And this wasn’t just a one-time finding. This illusion of self-transparency – the assumption that others can “read” you – has been validated in other studies, too. So don’t be so concerned with how you must look to your audience. In their eyes, you look more composed than you may be feeling!
“Public speaking is not dangerous; I will be OK.”
Public speaking may make you sweat and fidget, but it will never cause your death. Those jitters are just temporary, and will only last for the duration of your speech (if they don’t just disappear once you get rolling). What’s the worst that can happen? Perhaps somebody will tweet about your talk. Perhaps someone will tell you straight out that you were a mess. But hey, if it’s any consolation, even top celebrities have been labeled as terrible Oscar hosts and received their own share of criticism. If you accidentally do something embarrassing, handle it as gracefully as you can – and then do what your listeners will do: forgive yourself and remember, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
“My last speech didn’t go well, but I’ve learned from it.”
You’ve probably heard phrases like “It’s lovelier the second time around” or “Third time’s a charm.” They’re good reminders that you’ll have a “next time” to showcase your constantly improving communication skills. Remember that no one is born a public speaker. Even the most respected speakers – people like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates – were once in your shoes. Just keep going at it until it becomes easy and natural.
“I will not let stage fright stop me from delivering a great speech.”
Public speaking is an opportunity to exercise your communication skills; but delivering a speech, presentation or product demo also showcases your analytic skill, stress management ability, passion, and a lot more. So go out there and give it your best shot. Who knows? Maybe one of your listeners will invite you to another speaking engagement, hire you as a consultant, or connect with you for other career opportunities.
“If I forget what to say, I’m sure I’ll be able to wing it.”
Even the best speakers occasionally lose their train of thought during a speech or presentation. Such brief memory gaps frequently happen because the speaker is attending to so many different things during a performance: their message, the audience’s reaction, their visuals, the venue, and a whole basket of distractions. In this blog post, we’ve covered how to handle all this with composure.
“I believe in my abilities, not anxieties.”
Fear-based thoughts trick you into believing your anxiety is justified. In reality, they are just thoughts. They are not realities. They are not happening. They simply exist in a corner of your mind. But your abilities – they’ve been with you for years. They’ve helped you cope with previous challenges and accomplish milestones. It’s your strengths and abilities that have shaped you into the person you are now. Why let destructive thoughts – mere mental shadows – outweigh your true capabilities?
Do you have a stress-relieving mantra you use before speaking in public? Share it with us in the comments!
The Gantt chart has become a standard tool for organizers and managers across the world. With good reason: it’s a highly effective way to visualize, plan, coordinate and manage multi-faceted projects and processes. It brings together a project’s tasks, who’s responsible for each, when each should start and when it should finish in order for the whole project to run smoothly to a successful conclusion. Of course, projects rarely go exactly according to plan, but even when things go off the rails, the Gantt chart makes it far easier to set things right again, and still pull off a happy conclusion. Read more
Apart from presentation props, what should you bring to a presentation engagement? Here’s a list of items to include in your presenter’s kit. Bring them along and you’ll be prepared to recover from unexpected issues that can crop up on presentation day.
Laptop and vital accessories
Even if you’re invited to use a computer at the presentation venue, bring along your own laptop. Ideally you’re familiar with it, comfortable with it, and know how to de-bug it if it misbehaves. At the least you’ll be more comfortable with it than a strange new computer! Don’t forget to bring your charger, too. You know how batteries have a nasty way of running down, right in the middle of something important…. Read more
Have you ever bought a tool after a sales person showed how many ways it could be used? Have you ever ordered a kitchen utensil after seeing a chef use it in an infomercial? Have you ever signed up for a free app trial after a representative explained how it worked and what it could do for you?
A product demo is a powerful way to convince potential customers to buy your product. Explaining a product’s attributes and benefits isn’t always a walk in the park, though. It requires thorough product knowledge, strong persuasive skills, and an effective presentation.
Here are five tips for product demos that sell – whether one-on-one or to a crowd. Read more
It’s rarely a good idea to read speeches. Reading a speech glues your eyes to your notes, making it difficult to make eye contact and establish a connection and rapport with your audience – or to gauge your listeners’ reactions. Reading keeps you anchored to the lectern, unable to explore the stage or move freely.
Further, when reading from a script, your delivery is almost always affected – not wholly natural, and lacking your usual presence. Since you’re focused on reading the words correctly, there’s a tendency to lose the meaning behind them. Your normal (genuine and convincing) tone, emphasis, rhythm and inflections are lost. You risk sounding monotonous, insincere, even unprepared. Read more
Metaphors are microphones – they amplify your message.
Presenters often employ metaphors, both in their slides and in their speeches. By likening a new thing or concept to something familiar, they facilitate comprehension and heighten impact. This mechanism is especially handy for introducing a theory, a concept, or other intangible. Read more
Remember that stage as you were growing up, when “why?” was what you asked the most? Everything around you was fascinating, from the commonest of objects and people’s behaviors, to the color of the sky and animals’ sounds. But as the years go on, that wondering inquisitiveness fades, for most of us. To reawaken your natural curiosity, we’ve gathered five speeches meant to inspire that lively curiosity and urge to explore.
If there’s one thing Twitter has taught us, it’s how powerful conciseness and clarity can be. A 140-character tweet cuts out the unnecessary, redundant, and flowery words, encouraging tweeters to send straight, strong messages to their networks.
When writing a speech, remember Twitter’s implied advice to all its users: be clear and concise. There’s some truth to the idea that a lengthy speech is an indicator of your expertise and experience. After all, the more proficient you are in your field, the more ideas and stories you have to share with your audience. However, length does not necessarily equate with quality. If you over-write, hoping to impress your audience or to make yourself feel good, you’re going to end up with a lot of extra talk that adds nothing but vagueness. Read more
Though it’s true that a picture can be worth a thousand words, we still rely upon words to carry the complete message and the full story. They capture the narrative, clarify the abstract, conceptualize the unseen. When Chris Burkard gave a TED talk in 2015, he showed the audience jaw-dropping photos and videos of what he does as a surf photographer. But it was only through his words that the audience could fully appreciate his challenging quest for the perfect waves, in the most remote beaches of the world. His visuals impressed; his words inspired. His photos portrayed the outcome; his words described the process.
Because words produce a different kind of impact, effective presenters are careful to invest ample time in brainstorming key messages, finalizing speech outlines and framing relevant stories. Yet on some days, you’re at a loss for words. You can scarcely find any workable words at all, or your word choices just won’t adequately convey your thoughts. Read more
Including well-researched statistics in a presentation adds to its credibility. When you add numbers from a reliable source, your statements or arguments come across as being more valid, objective and reasonable.
While numbers can create a favorable impression, be careful to use them correctly, or they may bore or confuse your audience. The human brain is wired to appreciate relationships and stories better than figures alone. This challenges presenters and public speakers to improve their data presentation skills, so they’re able to present statistics in ways that make a lasting and weighty impact. Read more