Being Nervous About Public Speaking Is An Advantage!
Millions of years ago when we were living in the caves, this internal reaction helped us to survive! It told us when we were safe and when it was time to run to the hills to avoid becoming someones (or somethings) lunch! Unfortunately, even though we have evolved some of our systems have not. And although some of you may feel like public speaking is a life threatening event, in most cases no one in your audience is going to jump up and eat you if you make a mistake!
But nervous energy isn't all bad. You actually need a bit of nervous energy in your body to help you give your best performance. Being a little nervous before hand is going to heighten your awareness and give you the energy boost you need to give a great presentation. It helps us to get into our optimal zone of peak performance; somewhere between being asleep at one end of the spectrum and being completely petrified at the other!
You don't want to start your presentation flat and listless - it's completely boring and you will lose the attention of your audience in the first 30 seconds. The most boring public speakers I see are those people who are way too comfortable and end up putting no energy into their presentation. It looks like they would rather be anywhere else in the world rather than doing their speech. And it shows! Although they aren’t feeling nervous and probably know their material really well, they don’t engage with their audience or motivate people to pay attention. So if I had a choice, I would watch someone who is a little nervous any day of the week!
If you are overwhelmed by your nervous energy there are ways we can start to control it and help use it to our advantage.
Movement is one of the best way to stop you feeling like you want to run for the hills. Walking, often manifesting itself as pacing amongst the nervous, is a great way to get the heart pumping and releasing some of that energy. Shaking out your hands or doing a few squats in the corner are also great ways of getting the body moving. Or if your audience has already arrived and you don’t want to draw to much attention to yourself, try just clenching your fingers and toes as discretely as possible.
You often see this type of movement in boxers or other athletes before they are about to compete, loosening up their bodies and their minds, ready to give their best. You will even see singers or other performers backstage getting ready for the big concert doing the same thing. It works. It's natural and it will help you start to release some of that pent up energy and calm you down before you begin. I have even heard of people putting on a set of headphones and dancing around backstage. This is a great idea and can really get you pumped up before your next presentation! Having said that you may want find an empty room if you are going to give that one a go!
So don’t worry that you are feeling nervous before your next public speaking event. Remember that it’s a good thing and if you harness that energy you are going to give your best presentation yet!
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