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Tips for calming those public speaking nerves

Almost everyone gets nervous when giving a presentation or speech. Fear of speaking in front of others is very common. Even some of the most accomplished public speakers get nervous before a big speech. That being said, public speaking is a part of most of our lives everyday, whether it is at work, in our hobbies, or 4-H clubs and competitions. Here are some quick tips to help you reduce your public speaking anxiety:

Tips for Calming Public Speaking Anxiety
  1. Prepare in advance. Gather as much information as you can and organize it in such a way that the speech or demonstration achieves your purpose.
  2. Use notes. If you do not feel you can give an impromptu speech, use notes—just do not read the notes.
  3. Practice. There probably is no better way to relieve public speaking anxiety than to practice the speech multiple times. Practice in front of a mirror or in front of family or friends. Even your pets make great practice helpers. (Your dog or cat always loves to hear what you have to say!) If you have a video camera, record yourself. Critique what you see or solicit feedback from a person who watches you practice so that you can improve your speech delivery prior to when the real speech is presented.
  4. Take a deep breath, laugh, or yawn. You cannot take a deep breath or yawn and be tense at the same time. Even a nervous laugh to yourself before the speech can help relieve tension. Remind yourself that you are the expert. People want to hear what you have to say.
  5. Do not eat certain foods or drink certain beverages before the speech. Certain foods and beverages coat your throat, causing difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Stay away from such items as cola drinks, chocolates, and dairy products. It takes several hours to clear your throat from these foods and beverages. Stick with just water before your speech, staying hydrated helps in almost any situation.
4-H Public Speaking and Demonstration Competitive Events

This past Saturday, youth in 4-H District IX participated in the annual 4-H District competitive events. Almost 100 youth, with 30 from Pinellas County, competed in demonstrations, public speaking, and Share-the-fun talent acts. These youth practice for months preparing their speeches and demonstrations. These youth gain skills and knowledge of public speaking at a very early age, and these valuable life skills have been proven to help once they enter the workforce as adults.

If you are having anxiety and stress about an upcoming presentation, ask a 4-H’er for advice. Many of them have hours and hours of practice giving speeches and speaking to wide variety of people in their communities!

For more information about Florida 4-H public speaking and demonstration competitions visit here: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/demotalk/ and here: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/publicspeaking/

Sources:
Telg, R. (2014). Public speaking. UF/IFAS Extension. Retrieved from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc115