September 25, 2012 — 7 Tips for Nervous Public Speakers

I am about to embark on one of my least favorite occu­pa­tions — Pub­lic Speak­ing.  Although I jumped at the chance to get more expo­sure for my film by pre­sent­ing FINDING KUKAN at sev­er­al upcom­ing events, I am not a nat­ur­al speak­er.  In fact mak­ing any kind of announce­ment to a room full of strangers nor­mal­ly makes me break out in hot flash­es that are NOT menopausal-relat­ed.

So I’ve been col­lect­ing pub­lic speak­ing tips from friends and col­leagues.  I thought I’d share some of the best ones here.

Vintage underwear ad.

Could this tip apply out in the gar­den too?

1)  Pic­ture the audi­ence wear­ing just their under­wear (I know this is sup­posed to make you feel less intim­i­dat­ed, but I’m afraid I might just break out laugh­ing and nev­er recov­er).

Vintage underwear ad

Busi­ness­men man­age to look seri­ous even in their long johns


An ad from Miss Fancypants

Miss Fan­cy­pants the retro under­wear mak­er shows that women know how to have more fun, even in their under­wear.


2)  Prac­tice your speech in front of a mir­ror (could be dan­ger­ous depend­ing on your self-image)

Over­com­ing a neg­a­tive self-image is a part of the bat­tle.

cat looking in mirror

I need to take lessons from my cats.





3)  Act like a Diva, you’ll sound bet­ter.  (A hint from my won­der­ful singing instruc­tor Blos­som Lam Hoff­man)

Diva cartoon from Dorie Ratzlaff

The tal­ent­ed car­toon­ist Dorie Rat­zlaff illus­trates my Diva prob­lem.


4)  Warm up your voice with a Car­ol Bur­nett Tarzan call.  (Anoth­er hint from my singing instruc­tor)

5)  Use lots of visu­als so the audi­ence does­n’t focus too much on you. (But be care­ful of visu­al over­load and the LSD effect).

color block swirl

Visu­al over­load in the brain might look like this.



6)  Ask for divine inter­ven­tion and just wing it.

light ray in clouds

What I imag­ine Divine Inter­ven­tion might look like. (pho­to by Hei Astrid)


7)  Go online and get some prac­ti­cal tips from the pros.

In the next month or two I will prob­a­bly try out most of these.  I’ll report back which ones worked best for me.  What do you do when put in front of a crowd?

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5 Responses to September 25, 2012 — 7 Tips for Nervous Public Speakers

  1. Carol Markel says:

    Only one way to hit a home run. Prac­tice the speech out loud over and over again!

  2. duriandave says:

    I find it’s help­ful to find the peo­ple in the audi­ence who are giv­ing attention/energy back to you and use them as encour­age­ment anchors.

    Just be your­self and keep relaxed. And I’m sure you’ll do just fine. 🙂

    • WriterRobin says:

      Thanks, Dave. That is a very good tip. I am going to zero in on the per­son who is NOT tex­ting :). Relax­ing is the key. I’v had per­for­mance anx­i­ety since my days as a girl gym­nast. You would think you would out­grow things like that — UGH.

    • WriterRobin says:

      I used this one the most in my 3 talks. I real­ly helped. I tried to not look at the peo­ple who had their eyes closed and feed off the ones who were on the edge of their seats — some of them real­ly were — my future audi­ence. Lat­er, I was told that some peo­ple (espe­cial­ly old­er ones) like to rest their eyes when they lis­ten to a lec­ture. I hope that’s the case in my case.

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