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Felicia Slattery: Getting Past Your Public Speaking Jitters


Recently on a popular online networking forum, a wonderful author announced that she will be interviewed during an upcoming radio program. She also confessed how nervous she feels. I gave her a few pointers and thought they could help you, too.

I give these tips to all my students and public speaking clients:

  1. Visualize: Take yourself through the interview in your mind, feeling comfortable and confident answering the questions.
  2. Practice: Can you get the questions ahead of time? (Did you get to write them yourself? It’s a common practice.) Look over the questions and be prepared with the answers. Practice what you’ll say out loud– not just in your mind.
  3. Speak, don’t read: If you have the questions, the possible “danger” would be that you will craft beautifully written answers and then be tempted to read your answers. People can usually tell when you’re reading, even over the radio/internet/podcast, unless you’ve had some acting-type experience (and even then, I’d still be careful). Further, the spoken word tends to be more informal than the written word. If you happen to be a great writer, you may want to stick to your beautifully written prose… when what most listeners want to hear is much more conversational.
  4. Be in the moment: Just think of your interview as a regular conversation and focus on the interviewer and her questions.
  5. Butterflies are normal: That feeling is your body’s way of pointing out that you are doing something out of the ordinary. Be ready for it, acknowledge the feeling, and as we often say in the coaching world: feel the fear and do it anyway! It’s likely as you get rolling that nervousness will melt away.

Good luck to anyone who has to do a presentation. And if you need a little (or a lot of!) help getting ready, I have a quick 20-minute service that gets people more cash flow — often immediately — and they see the results they wanted from their talk. Contact me today!

5 Responses to Felicia Slattery: Getting Past Your Public Speaking Jitters

  1. Marcy Reply

    October 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Good article! I especially love the “butterflies are normal” part. I used to speak or sing or play a musical instrument before very large crowds (one time I sang for a crowd of around 50,000 people). Whenever I had the butterfly feeling, I would repeat to myself “I’m so excited! I’m really looking forward to it! I can’t wait until it’s my turn!” This was to explain to my brain that the physical reactions I was having were GOOD (because when you are really excited, you have the same physical symptoms as when you are really nervous). I made it a point NEVER to say “I’m not nervous” (because then I would focus on the word “nervous”). Instead I would focus on how excited I was, how I couldn’t wait to get started, etc. Also, focusing on how someone needs to hear what you have to say, and you just need to find their face and make eye contact with them, and sing/speak to that person, rather than to a whole crowd. (When singing it’s a bit easier, because you can close your eyes, and nobody cares. LOL)

    • Felicia Slattery Reply

      October 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Marcy!!

      Excited reactions are very similar to nervous reactions in the body.

  2. Doug Reply

    October 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Great post, Felicia… Tony Robbins talks about one recording artist who would freeze up as her pulse quickened and her heart raced just before going onstage, while Bruce Springsteen told him that’s how he knows he’s ready to rock. So it looks like even The Boss would agree with your ‘Butterflies Are Normal’…

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      October 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      That could be Barbra Streisand, Doug. Her stage fright is legendary.

      • Doug Reply

        October 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

        It was Carly Simon – I just didn’t see the need to name her. But I’m sure it would be true for a great number of artists. I’ve never experienced it at any of my talks, but then I’ve also never been in front of 50,000 people before. Not sure you’re old enough to remember the US festivals, but if you’ve ever seen the photos of the crowds I’m not sure ANYONE was ready for those massive audiences…

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