Absolutely. While it may not seem possible to be both composed and nervous at the lectern, it is most definitely what happens when you take control of your nervousness and let it work for you and not against you. Therein lies the problem for many novice speakers.
When you are nervous, the rush of adrenaline in your body has three choices: fight, flight, or freeze. Too often at the lectern, the speaker may move into freeze or flee mode. In the former instance, in which the body becomes rigid and immobile, nothing comes out of the mouth. In the latter situation, the speaker’s goal is to get it over with as quickly as possible. The result in this case is a presentation in which the pitch of the voice jumps an octave, one’s words are said at 100 mph, and breathlessness ensues.
If either of these situations is typical of you, then your adrenaline is in control and the panic you may be feeling only increases with each breath.
Those who are able to take control of their nervousness and put it to good use move into the fight mode. While this may seem like a negative, it isn’t. Do I want you ‘fighting’ on stage? Yes. In the sense that you are prepared to hold your ground, face your audience, and address them. If you
- know your material inside and out –
- make eye contact with your audience –
- speak with emotion –
- believe in yourself –
you will be amazed at how much easier it is to approach that lectern and satisfy the needs of your audience. If you are consumed by your fear, your reason for speaking will go unnoticed. You have a group of listeners – whether it is 5 people or 500 – who have gone out of their way to hear what you have to say. If you can focus on what you can do for them instead of your nervousness, you will be that much more successful.
Do you not think that Susan Boyle was nervous when she stood her ground on stage amid the catcalls on Britian’s Got Talent? Of course, she was. She had a much more difficult experience than you will ever have because she was being laughed at before she even began. You were unaware of her nervousness though. You only saw her composure.
If Susan Boyle can do it, I think you can too! Boyle was ready for the fight. Are you?
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. Visit Voice Dynamic and voice your opinion in her new blog.