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Conquer Your Nerves and Own the Stage – The Ultimate Guide to Public Speaking

By Dr. Claire Muselman

Have you ever found your heart pounding and palms sweaty just thinking about public speaking? Well, you are not alone, and guess what? That is totally okay! Today, we are diving deep into actionable ways you can own that stage like a superstar.

The Nervous Jitters: How to Face Them Head-On

Plan for the Nerves. Let’s get real: nervousness is a part of life. Instead of fearing those jitters, plan for them. Knowing how nerves manifest in your body can prepare you for the adrenaline rush. Deep breaths, positive affirmations, or a quick backstage dance-off can be your go-to techniques to channel that energy productively. What is mine? Ironically, I drink a Sugar Free RedBull. Yes, seriously and also, I know it is not the healthiest thing to do during these circumstances yet it works for me.

Mind Over Body. Your body is a mirror reflecting your mental state. A shaky hand or a trembling voice can give you away. But here is a life-hack—by learning to control your physical self, you can indirectly calm your mind. Try deep breathing exercises or grounding techniques to center yourself before stepping onto the stage.

Owning Your Physical Space

What is Up with Your Posture? Standing tall not only improves your appearance but also exudes confidence. Good posture can impact how your message is received. Remember to align your feet with your shoulders and avoid slouching. This will help your voice project better and command more attention. Take a deep breath in, roll your shoulders up back and down, then keep them there. Having your collarbone open with a strong stance is a great way to showcase the energy you are bringing into the space you are set to occupy.

Hand Check. Our hands are expressive tools. They can emphasize a point or distract from one.  Be mindful! Keep your hands relaxed at your sides when you are not using them and make purposeful gestures when you are. This may feel uncomfortable at first; however, it is all in your head. The audience does not think it looks weird when your hands are at your sides. Remember your posture as well!

Mic Check. Are you using a microphone during your talk? Will you be using a handheld or lapel mic? Test it out before you speak to ensure you are comfortable with the technology. Consider your outfit—does it have a pocket or a sturdy collar to clip a lapel mic? If you are going to use a lapel mic, you will also need to be aware of where the battery pack needs to slip if you do not have pockets easily assessable. Being prepared eliminates last-minute scrambles.

Comfort is Key. Choose your outfit wisely. This is a great time to reflect your personal brand if you are living for color, or in my case, sparkles! That being said, uncomfortable shoes or tight clothing can become a major distraction and not make you feel your very best. Our goal is for you to feel AMAZING! It is your time to shine and showcase your skill. Opt for clothes that make you feel both comfortable and fabulous—because you deserve to feel like a million bucks while sharing your wisdom.

Nervous Ticks Be Gone. Identify your nervous habits and devise strategies to avoid them. If you tend to tap your foot, concentrate on grounding your feet. Same if you tend to sway or cross your legs one behind the other while you are speaking. Focus on grounding, posture, and standing tall! Hold onto the podium if you usually twirl your hair or tap your fingers. Being aware of these little things can make a big difference. We do not want anything to distract from your knowledge sharing.

Your Voice, Your Power

Embrace the Silence. Pauses are golden moments that allow your message to sink in. Fillers like “um” or “ah” dilute your impact. Practice silent pauses to let your words breathe. Taking a deep breathe can help provide a moment of clarity for you and it gives your audience a moment for their mind to process the information you have recently shared.

Tune Your Voice. Lowering your vocal range can add a note of authority to your talk. This does not mean you should sound unnatural, but a deeper tone can make people more inclined to listen. Make sure you are focused on diction and enunciation throughout the vocalics of your presentation for crip and clear sounding words.

Form Over Content. Reading a script word-for-word may seem safe, but it can also be monotonous. Know your key points well, but do not be afraid to speak naturally and let your personality shine through. While scrips may be helpful, bullet points can also be a way to transform your speech with elements of authenticity, additional information that comes to mind, and a more natural approach to your audience.

Putting it All Together

No Flipping Allowed. Shuffling through pages is a distraction for both you and your audience. Stick to a single sheet of paper with your key points or use digital cues. The smoother the flow, the better the engagement. You are the only person who knows what information you are about to share. This is all about you. Trust yourself.

Visualization. Visualize your success to attract it! Spend a few quiet moments before your talk to close your eyes and imagine a rapt audience hanging on to your every word. You have got this, and you are going to be amazing. I do this the night before speaking events and first thing the morning of to solidify the energy I want to bring into a room. This can not only help set you up for success, but it also gives a positive tone to the day ahead.

Remember: YOU GOT THIS!

And there we have it, my radiant trailblazers! Armed with these tips, you are ready to take the stage by storm and dazzle your audience. Go ahead, own your moment and shine! I am cheering you on the whole way.

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