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Knock-kneed over public speaking?

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Former heavyweight boxing champ George Foreman was asked once if he ever felt nervous before a fight. Suddenly, the big guy looked a little wobbly and admitted that his knees would start shaking so badly that he wanted to grab them.

If that sounds like the way you feel before giving a speech or presentation, take these steps to success:
  • Do a few warm-up exercises.
1. List the worst things that could possibly happen (lose my notes, go blank, look foolish, etc.).

2. Identify an incident or experience you had that provokes a stress reaction, then start “journaling.” Over a period of days, weeks or months, track how anxious that trigger makes you feel on a scale from 1 to 10. This exercise alone will reduce your anxiety.

3. To the right of your list of the worst things that could happen, write a list of the best things: what you want to happen. Keep them performance-related.
  • Review your materials. Whether you’re working from notes or a script,practice aloud and at the proper pacing. If you can, practice where you’ll be delivering the presentation.
  • Visualize giving the perfect performance. Find a quiet place, calm your mind, then imagine walking down an imaginary staircase. If your mind wanders, gently guide yourself back.
When you’ve reached the bottom of the staircase, you enter a beautiful, serene setting. In that peaceful place, go through your routine in detail.

Now that you’re ready, just go for it.

— Adapted from Speak Without Fear, Ivy Naistadt, HarperResource.

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