Wednesday, August 3, 2016

PUBLIC SPEAKING: Fighting Back the Anxiety Attack

Nervous OR Anxious?  There's a Difference
It wasn’t long ago that somebody about to take the stage for one of their first really big speaking opportunities said to me, “The anxiety is killing me! I'm nervous and I really don’t think I can calm down.”

Now...  I could have said a bunch of things, but the look on their face told me that not much was going to stick if I rambled on with long winded last minute advice.  So I kept it simple.  I’ll tell you what I said in a moment.

The fact is that everyone has a degree of anxiety.  Everyone wrestles with finding the best way to combat the internal chaos of nerves and excitement and energy that goes with making a speech or delivering in front of an audience.

If you don’t have nerves, then the speech probably doesn’t mean that much.

BUT … first and foremost, don’t let your mind tell you that you are “nervous.”  Let your mind tell you that you’re anxious.  There is a huge difference.  Anxious means you’re dealing with energy.  Nervous means you are scared or uncomfortable about the potential outcome.

The key is a great beginning.  And for less experienced public speakers the opening moments are the most critical and most nerve wracking.

Here are three things you can do in the early moments of your talk to get off to a positive start.  I do each and every one of these – without fail – every time I take the stage.

Work the Room BEFORE Your Talk

·         Find a Friend & Laugh a Bit – whether you are at a table with others before hitting the stage, or mingling with guests in a cocktail hour, or sitting in a conference room before standing before the group, there is the chance to engage and the chance to talk.  Sitting (or standing) silent prior to the talk only lets your mind focus on the speech.  Relax, joke with people and take your mind off the big moment.

·         Bring Quick Energy – start with a smile, pose a question, show your enthusiasm and give them a visual clue that you aren’t nervous.  Go off script a bit to come across as natural and conversational.  Starting off trying to be “perfect” makes you seem rehearsed. 
Don't be LOCKED to a Podium

·         Take the Focus OFF You – A great opening shouldn’t take long.  But getting to a great video or a key slide or a perhaps even going so far as to walk OFF the stage into the audience with a question that makes someone else talk can help. Movement helps relax you.  Standing stiff (if nervous) and facing a big audience can add to nervousness.    

I can’t make your anxiety (or mine) go away.  It happens for everyone.  The key is to embrace it and find a way to make any butterflies you may be feeling fly in unison.

So here is what I said.  “Enjoy the moment.  Somebody picked you to do this.  Don’t be what you think they want you to be, just be you and make sure you smile and have fun.”

Remember, there is a difference between nerves and anxiety so find your way into a mindset that has you anxious and excited to walk in front of your audience, not afraid of it.

Thanks for reading this blog.  I welcome your comments below and your thoughts on twitter @KraigKann
Find a Way to Smile - It Relaxes EVERYONE

Thought for the Day: When it comes to speaking in front of a large group, remember that if you aren’t smiling, nobody is.  It’s really that simple.


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