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Even though I speak in public all the time, I still feel nervous before many, many presentations. And I'm actually okay with that. I know that pre-performance nerves are natural. I also know that many of your favorite singers, actors, and other entertainers get an attack of the jitters before their performances. Ironically, accepting is the first step to handling anxiety. Once you know that this is a natural part of performing, you gain confidence, and the more confidence you develop, the less likely you are to be thrown.
Until you gain more experience, you can work on improving your body posture. Some on-stage body postures can actually make you feel more afraid, while others can help you control your nerves. One of the worst and unfortunately the most typical body postures for very frightened speakers is this. This posture signals fear, not just to your audience but to your own body. It only makes your nerves much, much worse. Instead, if you're feeling very nervous and you're new to public speaking, try doing the exact opposite.
Instead of keeping your hands in front and your head down, place your hands behind your back and look up. This instantly makes your physical presence seem bigger and bolder. This is a quick temporary fix. This pose not only signals more confidence, but also lets you take in more oxygen for better control over your speaking. Here is another tip. I have students and even seasoned professionals tell me that they're often so nervous before a presentation they feel nauseous.
If you ever feel this, I have one easy and discreet pre-performance tip. Try blowing on your thumb as if it is a birthday candle and you're trying to put it out. This quick breathing exercise works because it tends to calm your diaphragm while narrowing your focus. Remember, your pre- performance jitters are natural. Just knowing this may help you feel more relaxed. Experience is the number one way to rise above the natural phenomenon of anxiety.
As you gain more experience in front of an audience, you'll discover other techniques to build on-stage confidence.
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