This was the headline on Sunday in the Observer’s This Week’s Question with Tom Lamont and Viv Goskop going ‘head to head’. It started, like so many articles on this subject, by referencing a poll that revealed people feared public speaking more than they feared being buried alive. They did not quote the source of this finding now seemingly an absolute truth so often is it repeated.
Among scores of nervous presenters I have worked with there was not one who would rather die than speak. However the frequent repetition may have added to what are their perfectly understandable fears.
As Viv Gosakop, not fearful, and a comedian who runs workshops- How to do Stand-Up and Never Be Afraid of Anything Ever Again (Within Reason, Does Not Include Shark Attacks)- says “The thing is the more you practise the less the fear gets in the way. People who speak confidently in public are not without fear.They just do it with the fear and with plenty of respect for it- because it’s normal and natural.”
Tom Lamont, fearful, said “What’s cruel about public speaking, and why it weighs on so many, is that it tends to be forced on you (work, weddings, birthdays). Worse it tends to be booked way in advance……a speech looms…it creeps closer, nerves piling on nerves…..scarier than Brian Blessed.”
So, use the time to practise! One tip. Rehears, (performing, not just reading your speech) to a friend. Doing this will reduce nerves on the day. And as you rehearse, practise the pauses most of all. They will make you appear confident. They will make you feel more confident. Try some deep breathing as well, pausing! Inhale-pause-exhale-pause….
Read more on pausing, https://www.pitchcoach.co.uk/2011/11/pitches-happen-in-the-pause/ and more on fear, Handling the BIG speech nerves.