Moaning, groaning, and sorrowing sobs could be heard all the way down the corridor of the Office Building. People rushed to the cubicle where several employees had gathered and found Valerie lying in the floor curled into the fetal position.
“What happened?” one employee asked seriously.
“Valerie was asked to give a presentation at a corporate meeting and she freaked out.”
That was before she became a Toastmaster.
Stage fright is common to all speakers who are concerned about their performance, yet for some it controls decisions, creates limitations and causes drastic responses in the body. You may not think you need any training in public speaking because you never do any public speaking. Regardless of whether you ever speak in front of an audience, you are a public speaker, every time you open your mouth.
Whatever you verbalize in public even one on one is public speaking and it is a reflection on who you are! Some of you are required to make presentations and I’m sure you want to do your best to make your point as clear and as effective as possible. How do you get past the fear of speaking in front of a panel of managers at a job interview? Here are some useful tips to help you control nervousness and appear calm and knowledgeable when you suddenly asked to speak.
1. Practice Yogic breathing for a few minutes before you take the stage. Yogic breathing means bringing air all the way to and from your abdomen. It calms the nerves and delivers a better flow of oxygen to the brain.
2. Practice impromptu speaking. While you are alone, think of a topic and pretend someone has asked you to speak about it. Begin organizing your thoughts. Think of an opening reply to the question or topic, the give your opinion and to close, summarize what you just said. Try to do this in less than two minutes. You’ll be surprised how much this will help you think on your feet when someone puts you on the spot.
3. Get involved with Toastmasters. There you will find a non-threatening environment in which to learn and practice the essential communication and leadership skills. The cost is less than $100 per year and includes your materials. Find a club near you by putting your zip code into the search box at toastmasters.org/find/default.asp. Now that you are aware of some things to do to cure stage fright, I’m sure you will not be the one huddled under your desk when it’s time to make your presentation.
Yvonne Perry has completed the requirements for Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). She uses her public speaking skills through Writers in the Sky podcast her weekly show about the craft and business of writing.
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