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Being part of a small business means you’re often dealing with smaller numbers of people on a day-to-day basis, which can lead you to freak out when it comes to being exposed to large numbers of people. Even if you’re part of a sizeable firm and are required to deliver presentations on a regular basis, the very thought of public speaking can still cause your heart to skip a beat so we’ve put together some useful tips to help you deal with the pressure.

We all know that dreaded feeling. You’ve got a big presentation or speech coming up and you just can’t seem to tame the butterflies in your stomach. Scratch that. You can’t seem to control the pterodactyls in the pit of your stomach because it’s more of a consuming dread than a delicate flutter.  The heat is rising up from your too-tight collar and all of the moisture that should be in your mouth has made its way down to your positively clammy palms.

Fight or flight

Dr Steve Peters coined the famous Chimp Paradox in which he claims that our brains are split into a number of different parts. One part is ruled by the human and works with fact and logic, while the other is run by a volatile chimp who lives by the fight or flight rule. The chimp sees public speaking as a dangerous situation which subsequently causes the human to enter into fight or flight mode, triggering those familiar feelings of panic. What we need to do is engage the human part of our brains more and listen to the logic that reassures us that this isn’t a life or death situation, nobody is out to make fun of us and we will come out of it alive.

Public speaking really is a daunting task and we can only imagine the amount of times you’ve heard the age-old ‘imagine everyone in the room naked’ and ‘take ten deep breaths’ tricks. We set about finding out some more unusual tactics that can help you stay calm when it comes to public speaking.

Crack a joke – Although this may seem like a super-serious situation and you’ll be trying to impress in front of some very important people, starting off with some subtle humour could be the key to your confidence. We aren’t suggesting that you dedicate ten minutes to a full stand-up sketch, nor are we saying that comedy is always appropriate but it can sometimes ease the tension and break the ice. Just assess the situation and dare to give it a whirl if you feel the time is right.

Pamper yourself the night before – If you look good, you feel good and if you have your self-esteem in check, this confidence will be projected when you’re speaking. Allocating time the night before to having a relaxing bubble bath and doing some preening will make sure you wake up feeling good about yourself. Wear your most flattering clothes, spend some extra time on your hair do and spritz yourself with your favourite scent but just make sure this doesn’t mean you’re running late!

Visit the location beforehand – You’ll no doubt be replaying the scenario over and over again in your mind in the run up to the event, imagining all the things that could go possibly wrong. You’ll probably be envisaging a vast expanse of space jam-packed with people all waiting silently to cast their judgements on you. You’ll see yourself as a tiny little figure facing this daunting ocean of faces. However, placing yourself in the venue beforehand will help ease these over-exaggerated visions and help you get a head start in establishing your bearings.

Embrace the dreaded pauses – The natural reaction to silence when plonked in a tense and uncomfortable situation is to fill it. Fill every single silent gap with anything that will come out of your mouth. You may think pauses highlight nerves and suggest that you’re incompetent or unprepared but allowing these pauses will ensure your audience doesn’t feel bombarded and will give you chance to catch your breath and collect your thoughts.

Pronounce your consonants – Although everyday speech is often naturally lazy and compromises on proper pronunciation, acknowledging your consonants can go a long way towards public speaking success. Articulating your words correctly will prevent you stumbling over your sentences and losing the plot. It may feel unnatural to you but you will sound eloquent and engaging in front on your listeners.

So, one last thing before you go – avoid the foolish temptation to announce your nerves to the crowd as this will completely undo all of your calming hard work. Revealing your discomfort to the audience is like strolling through a lion’s den with ten T-bone steaks in your pocket.

Follow our unusual but effective pointers to make sure your listeners don’t get a single whiff of nervousness as you take to the mic.


About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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