PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

How does your nervousness show when you are speaking in public?

The list of possible symptoms is long.  Two of the most common are hand wringing and unsettled feet.  A nervous speaker will continuously work his or her hands in a dry version of hand washing or do a small, non-stop dance.  Some speakers do both.

If you tend toward either of these nervous symptoms, take heart.  There is a simple solution.

If there is a lectern or table that you can touch with the fingertips of one hand, you will experience immediate relief from the nervous hands or dancing feet.  It’s as if we are electrical in nature and need to be grounded. 

If you are speaking in front of a conference table, and no one is sitting in the first seat to your right, you can drift over to it as you show your slides and lightly rest your hand on the back of it.

Occasionally, when someone is charged with speaking out in the middle of large stage you will see a stool or music stand that seems to have no purpose since the speaker neither sits nor refers to notes.  These items provide a grounding post, if needed.

There is a common variation on this grounding technique that involves holding on to something like a pen, microphone or laser pointer.  The effect can be the same, but you have to be careful not to start playing with the object.  That ballpoint pen you are holding may settle you down, but unconsciously clicking it will become a distraction to everybody in the room. 

The next time you start wringing your hands or shifting your feet nervously, ground your nerves.  A light touch is all it takes.

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