Night Shift Doctor Mom Greatness Series #3: Conquering Public Speaking Nervousness
Night Shift Doctor Mom: We All Get Nervous Before a Talk
We all get nervous before we have to speak in front of others. How that nervousness is manifested may be different but even the most seasoned speaker experiences this. In my last blog, I talked about my nervousness that seems to plague me before every one of my public speaking opportunities. For me sweaty palms, shakiness and rapid heart beat are the stigmata of my pre speech nervousness.
There are many reasons why we get so nervous. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of humiliation are just a few reasons for our nervousness. There is an interesting survey that looks at the fears of Americans called the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. It queries a random sampling of 1511 individuals on their feelings about 79 different fears. Fear of public speaking ranked as the number two personal fear behind the fear of reptiles. So it is no wonder we get butterflies before we have to speak in front of others.
3 Tips For Winning Over Nervousness
- Don’t Expect Perfection. When we expect perfection, we are putting undue pressure on ourselves and setting unrealistic expectations. This in turn sets us up for a let down when perfection is not achieved. We are imperfect, fallible beings. We can certainly be excellent, great, or phenomenal but perfect is that our fate. Accept this and use this to your advantage. So there is no need to focus on the imperfections or mistakes that can happen during the speech. The truth is your audience will not even know if you make a mistake unless you stop and draw attention to it. So if you stumble, just take a brief breath and continue with poise and grace. You need to give yourself grace. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
- Use Pauses. If you find that you are at a point during the speech where you need to gather your thoughts or control your speed of speech. This method works really well for those who stutter. For me, I use pauses to try to replace filler words that I tend to punctuate my sentences with like “um” and “you know what I mean”. There is a dramatic effect of a pause that allows the audience to digest the ideas being shared with them. Sometimes a pause will have to effect of returning the attention of your audience back to your words and away from a daydream.
- Power Pose. This is a very simple concept but is very effective. Amy Cuddy from Harvard Business School has done research on the power pose and how practicing an open pose prior to a talk can build and convey confidence. In her study, she had participants power pose for 2 minutes prior to being in a stressful situation where they had to speak in public. There appears to be a link between higher testosterone and lower cortisol levels in the participants who practiced power posing which made them appear more confident. The rational is that the lower cortisol levels equated to lowered stress response and less anxiety while the increased testosterone boosted confidence and power. So find a quiet place, even in a bathroom stall to practice your power pose before you go out there and speak.
These are just 3 tips to help you overcome your nervousness about speaking in public. If you found this blog post helpful, please comment below and share it.
Be strong. Be brave. Unleash your greatness!
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