How to Calm Nerves For Public Speaking

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The prospect of giving a speech in public can be daunting -- for many, the fear of public speaking is more intense than even the fear of death, according to Peter Desberg, author of "Speaking Scared, Sounding Good." The anxiety associated with public speaking can cause sweating, trembling, dizziness, redness of the skin and fainting. However, certain strategies may help calm your nerves, enabling you to give a confident, articulate speech.

  • Simulate your speech in a comfortable environment, such as your home, before the event. Wear the clothes you will wear when you speak in front of your audience, and use a microphone if available. Simulating the speech can instill a sense of calmness and confidence that you can recall when delivering your speech to your audience.

  • Meditate for 10 or 15 minutes before your speech by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and focusing your attention on the rhythm of your breath. Meditation can help curb racing thoughts, increase mental focus and curb anxiety associated with public speaking.

  • Engage in light exercise before your speech. Take a walk around the building or perform simple stretches to release muscle tension and take your mind off your worries.

  • Take herbs to help calm anxiety. Herbs such as skullcap, valerian and passionflower have mild tranquilizing properties that may help calm your central nervous system and reduce anxiety. You can also drink a cup of chamomile tea before the event, which may help calm your nerves.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, soft drinks and black tea, for several hours before your speech. Caffeine has a stimulant effect that may increase muscle tension and nervousness.
  • Remember that your audience does not want you to fail or experience anxiety. No one wants to listen to a nervous speaker -- people would rather listen to a dynamic speaker who exudes confidence and enthusiasm.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any herb to calm your nerves before a speech. All herbs may potentially cause side effects -- in particular, tranquilizing herbs may cause drowsiness.

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References

  • "Speaking Scared, Sounding Good"; Peter Desberg; 2006
  • "In the Spotlight"; Janet E. Esposito; 2005
  • "The New Healing Herbs"; Michael Castleman; 2010
  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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