Public Speaking Jitters

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, Fear/Doubt, Friends of ACFW, Speaking, tips 3 Comments

by Loretta Eidson

Have you stood before a crowd before a presentation, only to see a variety of expressions returning your stare? It’s easy when everyone smiles and looks eager to hear what you’re about to share, but what about those who are sporting lowered brows or a solemn countenance?

When they lean back scowl faced with their arms crossed or slumped in their seats, you may assume it will be a challenge to gain their interest. Facial expressions and non-verbal communication can have a significant effect on a speaker’s presentation. However, a confident, well-prepared speaker has learned how to overcome the audience’s reactions and move forward, making the speech delivery successful.

One speaking engagement left me, particularly rattled. It was early morning, and I hadn’t taken the time to drink my first cup of coffee. I’d been busy all morning and raced to the event. When I faced the crowd, something immobilized me. I met wide-eyed stares, and my thoughts went blank.

Quivering fingers gripped my notes so tight the paper fanned my face. To top it off, the squeak in my shaky voice and my fluttering eyes matched my unsteady hand. Humiliation and embarrassment welled up inside me. I could hardly wait to run and hide. I’d spoken before and never had a problem, but this time left me feeling inadequate.

Did the audience’s actual expressions and body language mortify me? Not at all. Months later, after I allowed myself to relive the event, I concluded that I had prejudged the crowd. I thought they wouldn’t be interested in what I had to say, so I haphazardly and very nervously spewed the message. My self-confidence had plummeted and skewed the delivery of my presentation.

Have you listened to a visibly nervous speaker? Your anxiety rises as you give mental assistance and hope the presenter doesn’t trip or burst into tears. You are relieved when the person leaves the podium. Pity or empathetic embarrassment squeezes your stomach in knots. This type of speaking isn’t pleasant for either party.

Do you cringe at the thought of public speaking, or have you had an unpleasant experience? Regardless of your many successes, it only takes one blunder to damage your self-esteem.

My experience forced me to revisit the lessons I learned after three years of public speaking classes. Writers have many opportunities to share with a group, teach a class, or speak at a conference. Preparing yourself and allowing your actual personality to shine through will make the engagement something to look forward to and not regret.

Here are some public speaking tips for you.

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Prepare your presentation, understand your subject, and do your research. Prepare for success before you start talking.
  3. Stand in front of a mirror and give your speech. Time yourself and watch your body language. Always stay within the time allotted for your presentation.
  4. Don’t chew gum or smack your lips. It’s distracting.
  5. Wear comfortable clothes. Pulling and tugging at your clothing isn’t attractive. The same goes for continually pushing your hair back or tucking it behind your ears.
  6. Set the tone you want the audience to perceive.
  7. Take a deep breath and conquer your fear. Pause and make eye contact.
  8. Relax, smile, be yourself, and have fun. If you relax, so will your audience.

What are some other tips you’ve found beneficial when speaking before a crowd? Please share them.

Regardless of your many public speaking successes, it only takes one blunder to plummet your self-esteem. @lorettajeidson #ACFWBlogs #writetips #encouragement #ACFWCommunity #publicspeaking Click To Tweet

Loretta Eidson is an award-winning author who loves writing romantic suspense. She is agented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Loretta is a member of ACFW, BRMCWC, RWA, SinC, and HACWN. She loves chocolate, caramel, and coffee. Loretta lives in Mississippi with her husband, Ken, a retired Police Captain. Find her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter @lorettajeidson.



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