Public speaking is one of the most documented phobias in today’s society. Anyone that has ever had to speak publicly has felt some form of nervousness. It’s natural. People want to be liked, and speaking publicly exposes you to the judgement of a large group of people. As entertainers, at Jammin’ DJ’s we are used to it. We speak to large groups for a living. However, this piece is meant for everyone else. For those of you who are dreading that wedding toast or retirement speech, here are a few tips to calm your nerves and feel confident when you step into the limelight.
First, prepare yourself. What is it that you’re trying to say? What emotions are you trying to convey? Keep those feelings in mind when you write your speech. Secondly, WRITE your speech. Seriously, if you’re the kind of nervous person that this blog is meant for, you need to write it down. Nerves can have a very weird effect on people. Under that kind of pressure and facing those emotions, improvisation is a BAD idea. That fear can completely erase the rough draft you have stored in your mind. If I had a dollar for every time that someone “winged it” and said something stupid or embarrassing, I’d be with Jammin’ just for fun, not for the money.
After you’ve properly prepared by writing your speech, practice it. It’s not enough to just go up there with words on paper. By practicing your speech, by yourself or in front of others, you hone in on the more detail oriented aspects. Tone. Inflection. Emotion. If you don’t practice expressing these things, in the moment they’ll be less likely to shine through. If you can memorize your speech, great! If not, your practice will allow you to better connect with your audience even though you’re consulting your notes. Staring at a sheet of paper and reading the words you’ve written without connection to your audience often causes you to lose their attention and your speech to fall flat.
Lastly, breathe. Honestly, so many people walk up to the microphone so amped and nervous that they forget what it is they’re trying to convey. Look up some calming techniques. Breathe in for 10 seconds and then breathe out for the same. Close your eyes and visualize how you want your audience to react. Have a drink of water. Have a drink of something stronger if you need. ONE drink, not four. Take a deep breath and walk to the stage conveying confidence and gravitas. Your audience will appreciate you for it, and you’ll thank yourself later.