Join Jeff Ansell for an in-depth discussion in this video Nervousness is common, part of Communicating with Confidence.
- It's okay to have butterflies when we speak in public, as long as they're flying in formation. Being a wee bit nervous is normal. Some of us, though, experience more than a wee bit of nervousness. When people tell me they get nervous speaking up in meetings, or delivering presentations and speeches. I understand it completely. I get nervous too. In fact, people find this hard to believe, but, when I was a TV news anchor and radio host, I actually experienced panic attacks live on the air.
The first time was when I quickly ran from the newsroom to the studio because I was on the air in a matter of seconds, and I rushed to the chair, and I put on my microphone, and then, just as I was about to start speaking, I couldn't catch my breath. I tried to speak, nothing came out, my heart was racing. It felt like I was in the movie, Jaws, and a shark had grabbed me. I managed to squeeze a few words out, haltingly, swallowing a lot, unable to catch my breath. It was very upsetting, and not to mention embarrassing as well.
Nobody wants to have a panic attack in front of anyone, let alone several hundred thousand people watching TV. I knew that if I was going to speak in public, or on TV, or on the radio, I needed to overcome my anxiety, so that I could genuinely communicate with confidence, and my initial breakthrough was when I took pressure off myself. I told myself that, when I speak in public, I'm not important. Thinking that I was important when I was on TV, or giving a speech, put pressure on me, pressure not to show my nerves, pressure never to make a mistake, pressure to be a flawless presenter.
(sighs) I needed to take that pressure off myself, and my initial breakthrough came when I realized I needed to stop trying to be a perfect speaker. I didn't need to be perfect because I wasn't important. What I say is important, and whether people get what I say, that's important. Me, the presenter, I'm not important. (chuckles) I'm simply the less-than-perfect vessel through which information flows, and I'm fine with that. Because I'm not important, I'm free, now, to focus on what truly is important.
- Organizing your thoughts
- Speaking slowly, naturally, and confidently
- Breathing properly
- Using your body to reinforce speech
- Managing facial expressions
- Handling nervousness
- Integrating voice modulation, eye contact, and hand gestures into a powerful and engaging communication style