Get rid of Anxiety and My Very First Speech

Get rid of anxiety now

What are the ways to get over your anxiety when it comes to giving a speech?  Well there are a lot of standard recommendations out there. I will go over all the standard things you have heard and then I will tell you what really work that perhaps you have never heard of before. The standard advice is visualizing the audience in their underwear or naked.  Well depending on your audience that is either too exciting or too disgusting. I do not recommend you do that.

Other advices visualize a standing ovation will not hurt anything but it is not really going to make you a better speaker. Other things meditate, drink green tea. Some people go so far as to recommend beta blockers a certain type of drug which I   think is a horrible idea.

There is one thing though that I find works every single time. If you have anxiety about a speech, the solution is practice your speech on video repeatedly and watch it until you like every aspect of your style and substance. Now a lot of people practice their speech but they do not watch it. So if it is incredibly boring or good they do not know. Some people practice a speech in front of a mirror but if you do that all you do is fixate on “oh am I losing more hair, is my nose crooked.” It does not help at all.  Some people practice a speech on video look at it dissect it, for two hours but if they do not then make improvements.  That does not help. The only thing that helps and in my experience having trained people on how to give better speeches for 35 years is you practice on video until you love your speech. You now have a role model for your speech. It is not something hypothetical. It is not a visualization. It is you have actually seen it on screen.

My Very First Presentation

I will never forget the first time I was asked to give a presentation, to give a speech. It was 1975 I was about to graduate from elementary school. I was at Bruns Avenue Elementary in the inner city of Charlotte North Carolina. My teacher came up to me one-day sort of pulled me by the sleeve and said “Hey TJ I will make a deal with you. Right now you have got good grades in every subject except for handwriting. I will give you an A in handwriting if you give the welcoming speech at graduation to parents, teachers, and students now.”

That time, I was an incredibly shy kid. I was someone who rarely talked in class. Basically never put my hand up. I had no natural aptitude whatsoever for publics. I had to no idea why she asked me to do this. But I figured. I would kind of like to have an A in handwriting. How hard could it be. So I said “Okay I will do it and I told Mrs. Troop okay I will do that speech.”

So I went home wrote, and rewrote a couple of things, stood up I think I actually read the speech (Fellow, students, parents, teachers at Bruns Avenue Elementary. Thank you for coming to this graduation ceremony.) Then I sat down. It was pretty much that brief that uninteresting. But you know what I got through it the world did not open up swallow me. Nothing bad happened.

In fact, something good happened I got an A on my handwriting on the report card. Now I do not know if that is a good thing what the teacher did but it taught me an important lesson. An early age if you are just willing to stand up and speak good things will happen to you the fact that I was nervous scared, uncomfortable. It did not really matter I still got the good things afterwards. So that is the lesson I learned.

Okay so why did I tell that story? Why do I tell that story in speeches? Because I want people to know I am not some natural-born speaker. I mean we have all seen some kindergartners are just Mr. Pizzazz miss pizzazz. They are really out go. I was not like that.  I want people that I teach on how to give presentations and speeches, and how to speak to the media to know I was not a natural. You do not have to be a natural. Everyone can start off uncomfortable even shy. It does not matter these are skills people can learn and you can learn at any age.

Now they especially try to stress this from time to time. Because some people will look at my videos or see me speak.  They just naturally assume I am just so confident and relaxed and smooth. I cannot even relate to someone being nervous or uncomfortable and truth be told. This sounds little arrogant to say it. I apologize I am really not nervous when I speak these days. I have not been for decades I am more nervous when I do not get to speak in a certain day or a certain week. So that can make me seem out of touch with some of my clients who are uncomfortable. That is why I tell this story. That is really the message you are not born being a great speaker. It is a learned skill and most people are naturally nervous and uncomfortable about speaking.  

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