[Illustration by Ryan Foland]
As a an engineer, there is a good chance that you are an introvert. There is nothing wrong with being soft spoken unless part of your job includes public speaking
You are great at communicating complex ideas, but just not to large groups of people. You get speech anxiety. In the privacy of your dim lit office, your fingers dance across the keyboard and you have no problem expressing yourself. You love what you do, but when the time comes to give a presentation to a group, the anxiety hits you like a freight train.
Engineer or not, if you get nervous even thinking about public speaking, you are not alone. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is one of the most common fears out there. Research has found that 3 out of 4 people, or 75 percent of individuals (including extroverts), suffer from speech anxiety. Globally, it is estimated that up to 5 percent of the world’s population (hundreds of millions out of a few billion people) suffer from the fear of speaking in any given year.
Sometimes the idea of having to speak in public makes you feel like you are being chased by a bear. I know the feeling.
Even if you fight your fears and master the courage to give the best presentation (trying to hide your anxiety), your body might be telling the audience a different story.
When you get on stage, though you may think you’re standing still, your nervous energy might be traveling down your legs, to your feet, or even to your fingers.
Are you balancing on one heel?
Are you swaying?
Is your left leg shaking?
Are your hands shaking?
What are your fingers doing?
Are you pacing back and forth?
Are you fidgeting with the clicker?
All these movements communicate your nervousness. If you realize these things are happening when you are on stage, it may cause even more anxiety, which makes you even more nervous.
[Illustration by Ryan Foland]
There is a simple solution!
I learned an awesome trick from my good friend Daniel Midson-Short, a professional speaker who has competed in the World Championships of Public Speaking more than once.
He taught me how to get rid of nervousness before speaking, and I am now going to teach you!
Before you go on stage, let the nervous energy flow through you.
The trick is to imagine your energy as a wave moving inside of you. Move your arms and legs freely and roll all of your energy through your limbs and neck.
Wiggle around and get that energy out! The main thing is not to fight it or hide it. Be aware and accept the fear and anxiety that you feel, and let it flow through you — before you go on stage.
By doing this, you get your nervous energy out of your body, allowing you to be calm when it is your time to give the presentation.
To make it easy, here is the step by step guide to the “Pre-Stage-Sway”
Go where no one can see you. Literally, go outside, go to the bathroom or anywhere away from people. You will probably be embarrassed by these following steps.
Take your jacket or extra clothing off. You will be moving around in uncomfortable positions. Taking off any unneeded materials will help release the stored up energy.
Take Deep Breaths
Take a deep breath and when your lungs are full of air, hold it for 3 seconds. Then let all the air out slowly until nothing is left, then again hold it for 3 seconds. Do this at least 3 times. It helps oxygenating your blood, as well as calming your nerves. Notice how relaxed you are after these simple 3 breathes.
Start Moving — literally, wiggle in funky positions. Shake your arms, move your hips, move your head sideways. If anyone saw you, you should be embarrassed. Pretend like you are doing the craziest dance ever. And don’t forget to smile while you do it. It is okay to laugh at yourself.
Stretch it Out
Now it is time to calm down. Congratulations, you now have flushed out a crazy amount of nervous energy from your body. It is time to unwind and stretch out your muscles so that they can be filled with new and relaxed blood flow. Stretch your arms over your head, stretch to the side, stretch your knees. Do whatever feels good to your body.
There you have it.
Do you feel better now? Less anxious? You should!
Perform this ritual before you go on stage or before your next boardroom presentation and you will notice a big difference in your nervousness levels.
And you won’t pace around or fidget as much.
Stay tuned for more public speaking tips released each week on InterestingEngineering.com. I believe that by mastering communication, you can upgrade your life. If you are interested to learn more check out how InfluenceTree can help you discover, communicate and grow your personal brand.