What gives away your nerves when speaking?
Recently I was working with a number of managers to help them rid themselves of their nerves when speaking in business. It affects us all in differing ways.
The Cause of Nerves
When we’re nervous, the body pumps adrenaline into our system. This wonder drug is designed to give us strength to handle fighting or flighting. It increases our heart rate and pumps more blood around the system to enable us to perform the ancient ritual of defending ourselves or running away.
Unfortunately when we’re speaking in business situations we can neither fight the audience nor run away, but the body wants to.
The Affects of Adrenaline
So what does this do to us? A number of things. Some of us show this blood pressure build up by the redness on our exposed skin. Mostly this can’t be seen because of the distance but the neck area is a dead give away and this tends to be women. You’re best off hiding this if you can. I always enjoy my Professional Speaking Association events and I admire the female speakers, many of them have fabulous scarves to cover their exposed neck areas. Even they have to hide what you can’t prevent.
Men perspire more. Especially under the armpits and if you’re wearing a dark shirt this really shows the tell tale mark of perspiration and nerves. Not good.
Simply wear a jacket if you know you will perspire and don’t remove it.
Blood flow around the tummy and intestine causes butterflies. You know that wobbly stomach churning feeling when we get nervous.
The best strategy is to slow down your heart rate and the easiest way is to breathe more and take full breaths. Try breathing through your diaphragm as this fills your lungs more and will slow your heart down to counteract the affect of adrenaline.
Nerves make us all get fidgety and our hands and feet can’t stop moving. People pace up and down and side to side or just sway. Movement without a purpose is a dead giveaway that they presenter is nervous. Hands start to join together and we fiddle with rings and grasp our knuckles.
The key here is to train ourselves to stand still and move our arms. Just like a tree, keep your truck still and move your branches and leaves with the wind. Keep your feet still and move your upper half of your body. Excel all your energy and nerves through your arms and gestures. And don’t link your hands together or hold onto anything as this will just exacerbate the problem.
The voice changes when people get nervous. You start to hear a slight quiver like a radio station that’s not quite tuned to the right channel. It just doesn’t sound right. Your mouth becomes dry and you find it difficult to pronounce your words and you speed up as a natural result of the adrenaline.
Easy to solve. Drink lots of water beforehand. Keep off the coffee, coke, tea and milk based products such as cheese, mayonnaise. Have water with you when you present to business groups as this is so totally acceptable these days. Keep your prompt notes with your water so you can have a quick slurp and check your notes at the same time.
Train yourself to speak slower to prevent the speedy talking when nervous. Put more pause in between to create a similar affect.
And most importantly, don’t wing it, plan and prepare thoroughly…practise practise practise.