Public speaking can be a terrifying experience. We asked those in the know how to fight the fear of taking part...
Jo Brand, Speaker Judge
Speaker Judge Jo Brand is no stranger to nerves, whether facing a theatre full of comedy fans or a handful of would-be employers at an audition.
"The number of people in the audience actually makes no difference in terms of how nervous you get, it's all very situation specific," Jo told us.
"I used to get nervous about three weeks before a gig... now I've managed to condense it down to a manageable ten minutes".
Jo's advice is to channel your nervous energy into making your performance that bit stronger, admitting: "If you're very blasé about stuff, your performance level drops a bit and you're not quite as on your toes as you could be "
Westlife singer Nicky Byrne admitted that he too gets nervous before facing a crowd.
"Nerves and butterflies in your stomach, it's something that everyone will always get. To what extreme is the key, you've got to be able to control them."
"The more you do it, the easier it becomes" Nicky told us, advising would-be speakers to build confidence piece by piece, to 'progress slowly'.
"People say 'I can't'… You always can. It's just about doing it once, even if doing it once is into the mirror on your own. Then you progress it slowly to the next stage, where it might be five times in front of the mirror, then to somebody else in the room."
But perhaps the biggest asset a speaker can have is humility: "Sometimes people are afraid to embarrass themselves," Nicky went on to say.
"That will always happen in life, no matter what you do, you're going to put your foot in it, do something stupid and everyone around you is going to laugh... You've got to learn to take those on the chin".
Even seasoned performers like Westlife sometimes get it wrong on stage. So what's the key to success? "If you're relaxed with it - no one's perfect, so just laugh along and move onto the next bit."
Julie Craig is an Award Winning driving instructor in North Yorkshire.
Having coached people through their driving tests for over five years, Julie is an Everyday Speaker all too familiar with calming people's nerves.
For Julie, it's all about building confidence: "I don’t allow the words 'I can't' into my car. As long as they try, eventually they'll start to believe."
The parallels between learner drivers and first time speakers are plentiful: "Everyone has as much right as anyone else," said Julie, highlighting the fact that everybody's a first timer at some point: "Everyone has to learn. It's one of the few things in life where we all have to pass a similar test."
The fear becomes much easier to fight when a focus is placed on positive aspects: "Quite often you can break it down into different elements." Julie said, encouraging people to: "Look at the parts they're doing really well," before addressing facets that need improvement.
And the most important thing? "I think if you can instil positivity, everything becomes much, much easier… then they smile! Once their body relaxes, everything else seems to flow a little bit easier."
Channel your nervous energy into the performance
Believe in yourself: never say 'I can't' - you always can
Remember - everyone started somewhere
Imagine how you'll feel when it's gone well
Focus on your strengths... and don't forget to smile!
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