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Simple Tricks to dealing with Speech Nerves

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

The audience is clearly divided. You're either someone who thrives off the attention of a crowd or you're someone who would be very grateful if the ground would open up, swallow you whole and spit you back out somewhere near the bar.


Whichever side you fall on speech nerves can get the better of us all and, like most things its far better to prepare for the worse and hoping for the best than it is to stick your head in the sand and cross your fingers.


As a wedding speech coach I offer my clients the insight and skills into dealing with speaking in public and understanding of what to do when things go wrong. As a little teaser, below are some tips for dealing with those pesky butterflies.


SLOW DOWN

Bride giving speech and toast at wedding reception holding champagne glass

Most of us speak far quicker when not in conversation. It become like a race to the finish line, and the worst part is we tend not be even be aware we are doing it. If you're not sure if you're speaking to fast as someone to listen in or, if you're still getting over some nerves, record yourself and play it back. Yes you will likely hate the sound of your own voice but you'll also get a first hand experience of how long it takes to hear and digest what is being said.


BREATHE

'Breathe' pink neon sign on foliage wall

Ever noticed how people race upstairs and are panting by the time they get to the top? Its not normally because of their level of fitness. It's because they hold their breath. The same goes for speaking in public. When nerves are tapping away we tend to hold our breath and breathe shallower which is a double whammy of a problem for keeping us focused and not fainting! Before you start speaking take a few good deep breaths, as slow as you can. You should feel in control of them. After each point or section of your speech make sure you take another long deep breath. There is such a thing as top-up breathing which can be used throughout the speech but firstly just concentrate on controlling your breath and using your lungs to their full capacity.


HYDRATE

Glasses of water with ice on wooden table

Ah yes, the ever faithful glass of water. This may seem like an obvious bit of advice but you might surprise yourself by forgetting that you can take a swig mid speech. Keeping your mouth hydrated will help your tongue and your vocal folds at their best. Water supports the vocal cords to work properly, allowing more resonance in the voice which will carry smoothly into the room. In the same vain avoid anything dairy at least a few hours before you speak. Dairy is notorious for thickening the mucous within your throat which will make diction harder.


SUPERMAN POSE

Boy holding superman pose in red cape

Unless you've got a very supportive audience with a good sense of humour I'd advise saving this one for a private room, or even a toilet cubical. Research has shown that standing in the superman pose - hands on hips, heads up, chest out (not horizontal, knee cocked, punching the air) - increases our confidence and self-esteem. Standing in this pose for a few minutes before your speech will help you feel grounded and in control.


To find out more about the speech options I offer visit the website or get in touch.


Good Luck!




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