A Little Nervousness is OK.
How to Make it Work for You!

Speech anxiety is real. Everybody, yes everybody, gets it - even at a retirement party. There are reliable ways to reduce it. I will go through these methods and even explain how speech apprehension can be used to your advantage.

Realize that apprehension and nervousness prior to giving a talk is common. Everyone has experienced it.

Celebrities who have spent hours with a microphone in their hands get it. Two that have admitted it in interviews are Barbara Streisand and Donny Osmond.

According to Mark Twain, "There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars."

It is important to remember a couple of things. 1) At a retirement party your listeners will be in a good mood and they want you to succeed. 2) You will survive.

The Symptoms

The list of speech anxiety symptoms include sweaty palms, dry mouth, rapid breathing, and so on. Everyone experiences the adrenalin rush a little differently. Even veteran speakers feel a bit of a "rush" before they speak. Its normal.

Try to turn any nervousness into a helpful energy.

Use it to spur you on to get great material for your talk. Keep in mind that your audience doesn't care if you lose your place or "mess up". They will remember what you say though.

The Talk

Public speaking is just talking to people. Be yourself. Have something to say that educates the listener. Have interesting information. Do the research.

Enjoy the success of good preparation. There is no need to think about, "What if I mess up or am boring". Forget about "me". Think about the good information that you are providing.

Visualize success. Understand that getting the "jitters" is likely to make your talk better. Remember, it happens to the pros.

You have been asked to speak because the hostess thought you would have something interesting to say.

The Key to Success

There is no substitute for good quality material. You already have that. Now get it organized. See speech preparation and speech content.

Focus on good preparation, not nervousness.

Learn your material. Know your audience. Talk to some of them before you speak.

The more you prepare and rehearse the less apprehensive you will be. During rehearsals watch your pace. Use pauses. Breath normally.

Confidence comes with repetition. Practice until you are comfortable with the material and your preparation. Your speech anxiety will start to diminish.

Some Good & Bad News

Arrive early for the party. Walk from your likely position in the audience to the podium. Learn what you need to know about the microphone and sound system. There could be an on/off switch. Picture yourself speaking with poise and confidence.

First, the bad news! You will be uneasy. Remember, everyone is. The good news is that it will dissipate quickly.

In about a minute your preparation and rehearsals will pay off.

Breath normally. Re-visualize your accomplishment. Do not let what can go wrong enter your mind. You are in control. Take it slow and easy. Speak the way you talk. Talk to a friend in the audience. Congratulations, you have overcome speech anxiety.

Finally, I've heard people say they would rather die than give a speech. The good news is no one has.

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