Public Speaking Paralysis – How to Cope With Nagging Nerves

If you have used article marketing as a way to enhance your visibility on the web, establish your expertise, or drive traffic to your online business, then you may also have considered public speaking. In fact, promoting your business via public speaking may prove to be an even better option than article marketing, as it lends that personal touch upon which so many "people businesses" rely. Giving a talk to a group is a great way to get "face time" with potential customers, acquire lucrative connections and establish yourself as a trusted industry resource. Unfortunately, for many people public speaking ranks high on the list of greatest fears. So, how can you maximize your speaking opportunities without maximizing your blood pressure? How can you stop those maddening "what if …" questions that paralyze you? One of the best strategies you can implement is to take the time to ask, and then answer those questions. If you are plagued by public speaking paralysis, here are a few ways to cope with your nagging nerves.

What if they all laugh at me?

First of all, they are not "all" laughing. It is doubtful that anyone is laughing. To prepare for this "what-if", try to empathize with your audience. Imagine yourself in their place. Your audience is seeking either enlightenment or entertainment. They do not want you to fail. If you succeed, then they are getting value for their time or money spent. If you put on a great performance, they will be entertained, informed, and inspired. Your success is their success. No one wants you to waste their time. Your audience is actually rooting for you. When you look at it that way, it's hard to think of the audience as an adversary.

What if I forget what I'm supposed to say?

Your audience does not have the text of your speech in front of them. They have no idea what you planned to say. If you have to ad-lib, they will have no idea. If you sheepishly admit you've gone blank, while you stutter and stammer and stumble around, then you will unnecessarily call attention to your lapse. If you are concerned about losing your place, simply allow yourself notes. Notes can be camouflaged numerous ways; Taped to the back of a chair that is tucked under the head table, affixed to the reverse side of a flip chart page, pinned to a side curtain, anywhere. Think creatively about how you'll hide your cue cards and ticklers. Simply by taking a proactive approach, you'll be more relaxed and less likely to forget your content.

What if my equipment fails?

Have a plan B. However, if you are so dependent upon your slide show that you can not function without it, perhaps you might rethink your presentation technique. Make printed versions of your slides, if possible. If there is a technical problem, during a break you can make copies for the audience to read. Pack extra projector bulbs, extension cords, and duplicate files on flash drives. Bring your laptop, too.

What if the staging or seating is set up incorrectly?

Arrive early. If possible, find out who the facilities event crew will be, and get the name of the specific person in charge of setting up the room. Not the name of the hotel desk clerk, company event planner or the hotel concierge, get the name of the actual person who will be setting up the room. Provide him with a checklist in advance, and say, "Let's work together to get this done." If you behave like a demanding diva, you just might arrive to an empty room, and be forced to set it up yourself. Afterwords, be sure to show appropriate appreciation to all support personnel who assisted you.

Take the time to prepare a list of "what if" questions, and then answer them. Simply by strategizing for the unforeseen, you'll feel more in control, and therefore more relaxed. Consider that nervousness does not always have to be a bad thing. To borrow a line from the film, 'Being Julia, "nerves are the respect we pay our audience. Sometimes, excitement can be mistaken for nervousness. Allow yourself to enjoy your performance. Your enthusiasm will be infectious, and your audience will want to join the party.

Copyright 2009 by Laura Legendary All rights reserved.