Twitter provides me with a wealth of information on a daily basis, so I began bookmarking each week’s best news and articles. I read three interesting articles this weekend from Forbes, Nancy Duarte’s blog, and Calculated Presentations about quieting the public speaking anxiety caused by our Lizard Brains.
Learn more about the Lizard Brain concept here.
Forbes “Career Talk For Women” section recently included an article by Selena Rezvani called “Four Ways to Quiet Your Presentation Anxiety.” Since I am obsessed with all things Lizard Brain, I love learning new strategies to teach my students and to use myself. Public speaking anxiety is something we must all face, and we all have different triggers and reasons why we are nervous. Rezvani suggests that we “find [the] right rehearsal level,” and I think this is tremendous advice. However, one way to definitely bomb your speech is to not practice at all. Whether you practice 100 times or 10, find the right level for you and the specific speech you’re delivering.
I also like Rezvani’s advice that we should “think connection, not perfection.” In last week’s post “The Goal of Speech Delivery,” I touch on the main focus of delivery: connection as opposed to perfection. Rezvani adds that we should remember “there is no “perfect” when it comes to presenting. If there were ever something we should be aiming for however—that is a real mark of performance–it’s our connection and rapport with the audience” (Source). Audiences don’t like perfection because they don’t connect with robots. The more we can remember this, the more we can quiet our Lizard Brains.
Nancy Duarte’s blog featured Greta Stahl’s “How to Make a Favorable First Impression,” and this article gives fantastic advice on how to quiet the Lizard Brain and power through those first few seconds of a presentation. Stahl reminds us that we should practice, relax, relate, and restrain in order to create that positive first impression (Source). Many of my students believe they can wing their speeches. They may be charismatic or have great personalities in their personal lives, so they think this particular quality alone can carry them through a speech. I’ve seen enough “I’m just going to wing it” speakers bomb to know that approach doesn’t work 95% of the time. Remember that a great speech is about more than just charisma; it involves doing well on all 3 legs of the presentation stool: content, delivery, and visual presentation (where applicable). If you apply Stahl’s suggestions, you are able to quiet your Lizard Brain AND make a positive impression on your audience.
The final article I found this weekend deals with the presentation anxiety even public speaking coaches still suffer from. Janice Tomich of Calculated Presentations explains that before a workshop last month, she felt the nerves and the resurgence of the Lizard Brain. She suggests 5 tips for overcoming that Lizard Brain: 1) breathing exercises, 2) visualization, 3) practice, practice, and then more practice, and 4) positive mantras and cognitive restructuring. Tomich explains that speaking more would actually calm her nerves (Source). It’s true that the best way to conquer your irrational Lizard Brain anxieties and fears is to deal with those feelings more frequently.
What tips do you have for quieting presentation anxiety and conquering the Lizard Brain?