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The Nervous Public Speaker's Survival Kit

Most of the clients I work with will have been working with me over a series of weeks or months so I can help them prepare for their talks. Sometimes, though, people will contact me at the very last minute. They have a talk coming up the next day and they need some hints and tips about how to give the best possible impression on stage.

While there is very little we can do to change the structure and content of their presentation at that late stage, I can help them to reduce any nerves or anxiety they be feeling and enhance their impact on the day of the presentation by using three sets of techniques- vocal warm ups, breathing and centring. I have prepared three separate videos which explore these techniques in detail, which you can find below.

1. Vocal wam ups

Warming up your voice is essential if you're planning to speak continuously for more than 15 minutes or so. Your vocal cords are no different to any other muscle in your body. Putting them under undue stress and strain will cause short term and potentially long term damage. Short term impact includes getting a sore throat, a dry mouth and becoming hoarse. Longer term damage could include tearing vocal cords or getting vocal nodules which can need surgery to correct.

It need only take a few minutes to warm up your voice and it can really enhance your vocal performance, as well as helping you to avoid long term problems.

This video includes three great techniques you can use.

2. Breath work

Breathing deeply and slowly into your belly can help to calm your nervous system down which then leads to reduced anxiety and stress. One of the most powerful techniques to use is box breathing, which is explained in this video.

3. Centring

Centring is a way of calming the nervous energy you might be feeling before a stressful event. The impact of centring is to make you appear and feel more grounded which means that your audience is more likely to trust you and be prepared to listen to you.

Centring is explained in this video.

Completing all these techniques before a talk or performance should take you less than 10 minutes. You can do them discretely in a quiet corner of the venue without drawing attention to yourself and they will pay great dividends both in the short and long run.

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