Publications & Products
Volume 4, Issue 26

Techniques for Quelling Fear of Public Speaking

People can keep their nerves at bay before delivering a big speech by using the right relaxation tactics, says one public speaking coach.

Robin Kermode, author of Speak: So Your Audience Will Listen—7 Steps to Confident and Successful Public Speaking, recently shared with Management Today some techniques to calm public speaking anxiety, including:

  • Push a wall. "Before you give your speech, find somewhere where you can be alone for a couple of minutes and stand and face a wall," Kermode writes. "Place both hands on the wall about shoulder height and push really hard, as if you're trying to push the wall a couple of metres. After pushing, stand normally and try speaking out loud. See how much more relaxed your voice sounds."
  • Stick your tongue out. "Next, stick your tongue out as far as it will go and try to say the whole of the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme out loud," she writes. "This will open the back of the throat, making you sound more confident. The effects should last five minutes or so—great for the start of a speech."
  • Squeeze your buttocks or thighs. "As you stand to speak, remember this: it's almost physically impossible to shake if your buttocks or your thigh muscles are clenched," she writes. "Trust me on this—it does work. Simply squeeze your buttocks or your thigh muscles—I don't mean squeeze them with your hands, of course; I mean clench the muscles themselves. Most clothes will completely mask your actions, and it will help you feel and appear more confident."
  • Hold hands. "When we stand up to speak in public, our arms suddenly seem to be twice as long and twice as gangly," Kermode writes. "To overcome this, I recommend holding your hands lightly together in front of your stomach. This is the stance that most professional presenters prefer because it looks physically ‘open' and relaxed. It also means you are free to make gestures for emphasis. By using this technique, you'll feel more in control and reduce your nerves too."

This article is from the Jan. 5, 2015 issue.

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