The secret to not looking like a nervous speaker

My previous blog was about how to spot a nervous speaker so today’s blog will be about the secret to not looking like a nervous speaker yourself.

We’ve all seen speakers impacted by their adrenaline and as a result unable to control certain strange non-verbal idiosyncrasies. This can be anything from folding the arms and crossing the legs at the ankles to clicking pen plungers or fiddling with your neck tie. These odd and unwelcome behaviors can be eliminated using a particular method of practice that will enable you to develop new non-verbal habits.

Here’s how it works.

Practicing a presentation requires delivering that presentation out loud to an audience of no one. It’s in your empty living room that you will make great strides in developing presentation skills. First and foremost practice is about becoming so familiar with your content that you’re not searching your memory banks for what to say next in front of a live audience or winging it and making content up as you go along.

But once you’ve practiced your presentation enough that you feel comfortable with what you’re going to say you now need to focus your practice on what your body will say. Here’s the key to eliminating nervous non-verbal cues that I promised – it’s amazing how much of your brain bandwidth is opened up once you know your content well. Now, as your practicing that speech out loud, you’re not working so hard to remember what you’re supposed to say and as a result you have enough brain cells available to think about “how are my feet positioned?” and “why am I jingling the change in my pocket?”

So once you are comfortable with your content you continue to practice that presentation out loud in an empty room, but now your focus is on developing positive non-verbal habits. Make certain, for example, that as you are speaking you are standing square to the audience (or where the audience would be) with your back straight and  your feet flat on the floor. Be aware of your hand gestures and of where your hands are positioned when not gesturing. And practice moving your eyes around that empty room so that you develop the habit of making eye contact with everyone in your audience.

Excellent non-verbal communication will have a tremendous positive impact on your presentation. But none of these good habits come naturally. You must first become familiar enough with your verbal message so that your brain will be free to consciously practice positive non-verbal cues.

Those positive non-verbal cues will become second nature and then your audience will never spot a nervous speaker.


Want to discuss your next big presentation? Just get in touch.



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