Beat your speaking nerves by getting familiar with your surroundings!

This month’s nerve-busting confidence corner piece of advice is all about getting familiar with your surroundings as a speaker.

When we’re nervous about an upcoming speech or presentation, we often imagine in our head what will happen. Generally, our mental image is the very worst outcome possible. In the past people have told me they imagine fainting, vomiting, or even their clothes falling off!

What’s your negative mental image – anything worse than that?

Getting familiar with our speaking surroundings, and our audience too, is a great way to overcome the nerves and banish these negative mental images. Once these images are gone, we can focus on being a cool, clear and confident speaker!

So how do we do it?

Always arrive early to your speaking engagement and take time to get comfortable in the room. Walk around the room and take a look at the stage from every angle so that you can imagine exactly the view that your audience are going to have.

Then, take a few minutes to sit and imagine your speech or presentation going well. Think about how you will look, what your voice will sound like and the applause of the audience once you have finished.

Replace your imagined negative image with this new, real one that includes your newly created knowledge and image of the venue you have just arrived at.

Many professional speakers use this technique, and some even take time to touch every chair in the room before they start, so that they’re comfortable with every single part of their surroundings!

Then what?

You may also get the chance to meet your audience before you stand up and speak on stage. Don’t forsake this opportunity. Meet as many members of your audience as you can before you stand up to speak. It’s much easier to speak to a room full of faces that you know, and you may even find that upon meeting some of your audience, they are not half as scary as you thought they would be!

On top of this, you may also pick up some vital nuggets of information that you can weave into your presentation to make it more relevant and engaging for your audience (and make you look super cool and confident too!).

For example, when chatting with your audience before your presentation, they may tell you about an issue they are having within their role. You could use this in your presentation simply by saying:

“This next point should be really relevant for you all, I was talking to Dan here earlier and he told me that he was looking for a solution to this issue…”

The result is that you look like a confident speaker that can adapt your speech at any time, and your audience feel more engaged because they can see and hear how the point is relevant to them.

Double win!

Have you used these techniques before? I’d love to know how you got on. Please let me know in the comments below.