Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday here on Katelovesliterature.com.
Last week’s #theorythursday was all about poetic devices so you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.
Today’s #theorythursday is a little different and those of you who reached out to let me know that you find my public speaking centred content helpful should find today’s blog post very beneficial as today I am going to be talking about how to tackle the nerves that can come with public speaking.
Today’s post is a little less based in theory because instead I am giving you my own personal tips about dealing with nerves because over the years I have become very confident when it comes to public speaking, in fact I even enjoy it now. So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.
Firstly, let’s ask ourselves why do we get nervous?
I have had friends and family members tell me that they do not understand how I enjoy public speaking because it makes them so nervous and I think a really good way to deal with nerves is to figure out what exactly you are nervous about.
Are you nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd?
Are you nervous about forgetting the material?
Are you worried that people won’t like what you have to say?
There are many reasons as to why people find public speaking challenging and all of those reasons are very valid but nerves don’t have to stop you. I would even say that sometimes nerves fuel me and with time, I think they will fuel you too.
So once I have figured out what exactly is making me nervous, I start to tackle those factors one by one.
So if I am nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd, the best thing I have learned to do over the years is to not look at the crowd. Instead, you should look above their heads.
Pick a spot on the back wall and that spot will be your focus spot. When you walk out onto the stage or to the podium or to wherever you may be speaking, look directly at your focus spot.
By looking over the audience’s heads, you are giving the impression that you are facing the crowd confidently but you are not actually making eye contact with anyone, and looking above people’s heads rather than looking directly at people will make the audience less daunting as it won’t feel as though so many eyes are on you.
This takes practice so I would recommend choosing a focus spot whenever you are practicing your speech. If you are in the venue or in a rehearsal room, or even if you are rehearsing at home, pick a focus spot and get into the habit of keeping your gaze on that spot while you are speaking.
Having a focus spot also makes it easier to remain concentrated for the duration of your speech because by looking above the audience, you are less likely to be distracted by any movements that may occur in the audience. People move, people take coats off, people take notes, some drink water, some leave to go to the bathroom, etc, etc. When you are already nervous, catching someone’s eye or seeing movement can distract you and cause you to stumble, which will in turn only make your nerves worse so that is why my first tip is to pick a focus spot that will help you get into the zone.
My next tip will sound very obvious but I am often surprised by how many people do not do this. Practice. You simply must practice your speech if you want to feel confident when giving it. If you are also nervous about forgetting your material, practicing will help tackle this area too because practicing means you are getting the words into your system and there will come a time when you know the speech in your sleep.
Practice your speech aloud. Take some time to see how long it takes to give the speech. You will figure out where you need to pause for breath or where you may need to have some water and the more you recite your speech aloud, the easier giving the speech becomes.
Another really good tip is to practice with people rather than always doing so by yourself. Ask a friend, ask a parent, ask a teacher, ask anyone you feel like asking if they could spare some time to listen to you recite your speech.
Reciting the speech to people you know helps in many ways.
It helps to tackle nerves about speaking in front of people because you are easing yourself into it by reciting the speech to someone you know and are comfortable with.
Practicing a speech in front of a friend gives you the opportunity to implement your new focus spot. You can pick a spot and look above their head and get used to doing so.
Practicing a speech in front of a friend is another chance to make sure you are confident that you know it and feedback is a great tool. Ask a friend or a family member to give you honest feedback. Find out if anything is confusing or boring or if they think you are talking too fast or too slow because it is always better to get feedback and amend things before the speech rather than having things you wished you had changed after the speech.
The thing about public speaking is that is it daunting but the only way to really get better at it is to keep doing it. Over time it will become easier.
Another thing that I like to do is use the nerves as fuel.
Over the years I have done a lot of public speaking. I did readings and speeches in school. I’ve done presentations in college, I have performed in many plays and even though it gets easier, I would never say that I am not at least a little bit nervous.
It is good to be a little bit nervous. It means you care. Without those butterflies, there is no magic in my opinion. That feeling before walking out before a crowd or that last moment before the curtain opens is a feeling that is like no other. It is adrenaline and I’ve grown to love it and instead of letting those nerves worry me and stop me, I’ve began to look at that feeling as a good thing. The nerves excite me and now they fuel me and I think this little change of mindset has been so beneficial.
It is okay to be nervous and no one should be hard on themselves about being nervous. The important thing is that we must not let the nerves beat us. We must not let them stop us from giving the speech and so that is why I feel viewing nerves as a good thing is really beneficial.
Another tip I have is that while it is important to practice, I also think a calm attitude before going onstage is so important. Do not overdo it right before you go on. Do not keep looking out to see how many people are there. Fight the urge to ask yourself whether you know the speech or not. Don’t start second-guessing yourself right before you are to begin. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. Have some water and trust that by this point you have done the work. You have practised, you know your stuff, you have your focus spot, and these nerves are fuel.
Try to enjoy the speech and remember that even if you do make a mistake, no one in the audience knows. Only you know so if there are any mistakes, do not fret. Simply keep going as confidently as you can and no one will be any wiser.
Confidence is a mystery sometimes. There are times when I feel extremely confident and there are times when I do not feel one bit confident but no matter how I am feeling, I follow the steps that I have outlined above.
I stay calm. I take deep breaths. I drink water. I practice my speech alone and in front of friends. I have my focus spot. This little checklist has enabled me to become a very confident and very engaging public speaker and as I said, I would now go as far as to say that I actually enjoy public speaking because I enjoy the challenge, and I have started to view the nerves as fuel.
To anyone who is struggling with public speaking, especially those of you who have reached out to me to ask questions about it, the best piece of advice I can give is to keep trying. Keep at it. If it is something that you wish to become better at, then the best thing to do is to keep it up. Keep practicing because it will get easier and I hope that you will find today’s Theory Thursday beneficial.
If you have any questions about public speaking then please do drop a comment below because I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can.
This has been Theory Thursday.