Stagefright Smashers for the Speaker By Lucille S. Rubin, Ph.D.
  1. Get Organized: A clear organizational pattern keeps your mind on your message and off your nervousness. Speaking from prepared notes, an outline or a script provides a comfort level for you and your audience.
  2. Breathe Low: Take the breath in through your mouth and down to your navel. Breathing low centers your breath and encourages a natural breath rhythm. Avoid chest breathing as it signals anxiety.
  3. Project a Positive Posture: Stand with your feet 4”-6” apart. Lengthen your spine from base to skull, widen your chest and balance your weights (head-over-shoulder-over-hips-over-feet). 4. Memorize Your First and Last Three Lines: Direct each line to three separate people sitting in different areas of the room. Turn your body, face and eyes toward the person you select. Associating a physical action with your words is a memory aid and dismisses the fear of forgetting.
  4. Speak With Vocal Confidence: If you SOUND confident you are more likely to FEEL confident. Avoid vocal trembling and shaking. Choose a vocal tone that reflects how you want to be perceived – Wimp or Winner – It’s your decision!
  5. Maintain Vocal Energy: This doesn’t mean you have to shout, but it does mean that you must keep your engine going all the time. Put excess energy into your voice by pitching up, avoiding husky tones and using vocal variety. Release physical tension by engaging your body and using gestures.
  6. Stay On Track: Keep focused by following your outline, notes or script. Avoid adlibbing unless you’re a pro. Practice side remarks in advance and avoid rambling.
  7. Believe In Yourself/Product/Service/Cause: Gain confidence by investing in the purpose of your speech or the intention you want to fulfill. Know WHY you are making a speech or giving a presentation.
  8. Make Use of the Dramatic Pause: Pauses keep listeners in suspense and add variety to your rate and rhythm. Avoid using filler words such as ”ah”, “that is to say”, “however”, “therefore”, etc. as a means of covering silences.
  9. Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse!: Reserve twice as much time for rehearsing as you did in preparing the speech. Give your speech to the mirror, your dog or a friend—until you are bored.

Practice the above skills daily – on the phone, in conversation and during meetings both off and on the job. New skills become second nature and will put you at ease the next time you speak or present.

Copyright © 2002, Lucille S. Rubin, Ph.D.
Professionally Speaking, NYC [email protected]