There is no such thing as an ideal speech! At some point in every presentation, every speaker says or does something – no matter how minor – that does not come across precisely as he or she had planned.
Fortunately, as with one’s nerves, such moments are generally not apparent to the audience.
Why? Since the audience does not know what the speaker plans to say. It hears only what the speaker does say.
If you shortly lose your place, reverse the order of a couple statements, or not remember to pause at a certain spot, no one needs to know. When such moments occur, don’t be terrified of them. Just carry on as if nothing happened.
Even if you do make a noticeable mistake at some stage in a speech, that is no catastrophe. If you have ever listened to Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, you may remember that he stumbles over his words twice during the speech.
Most likely, however, you don’t remember. Why? Since you were focusing on King’s message rather than on the fine points of his delivery.
One of the biggest reasons people are worried about making a mistake in a speech is that they view speech-making as a kind of performance than as an act of communication.
They think the audience is judging against a scale of absolute perfection in which every misstated word or awkward gesture will oppose them. But speech audiences are not judges in a violin recital or an ice-skating contest.
They are not looking for an expert performance, but for a carefully planned address that communicates the speaker’s ideas clearly and directly. Sometimes an error or two can really enhance a speaker’s appeal by making her or him seem more human.
The five tips are given below.
1. Take slow, deep breaths before you start to speak. Most people, when they are tense, take short, shallow breaths, which only strengthen their anxiety. Deep breathing breaks this cycle of tension and helps calm your nerves.
2. Work particularly hard on your introduction. Research has shown that a speaker’s anxiety level begins to drop considerably after the first 30 seconds of a presentation. Once you get through the introduction, you should find smoother sailing the rest of the way.
3. So as to get your message across to your listeners, ensure you prepare systematically as you work on your speeches.
But don’t be afraid of being perfect or about what will happen if you make a mistake. Once you free your mind of these burdens, you will find it much easier to move toward your speeches with confidence and even with enthusiasm.
4. Be at your best physically and mentally. It’s not a good idea to stay up until 4:00 a.m. partying with friends or cramming for an exam the night prior to your speech. A good night’s sleep will serve you better.
5. As you are waiting to speak, quietly squeeze and relax your leg muscles, or squeeze your hands together and then release them. Such actions help reduce tension by providing an outlet for your extra adrenaline.