Does Public Speaking Make You Nervous?

by Jackie Ferrado on September 7, 2010

I am pleased to announce Cornerstone’s first guest blogger, Jackie Ferrado!

Whether you have to speak to large groups or small, do a formal presentation or have an informal conversation, give a briefing or teach a class, you might experience some levels of anxiety.  Developing some speaking skills and learning new techniques will help alleviate some of that anxiety and help you “speak—- easy”!

Speak Easy will be a monthly guest post by Jackie.  Please leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Speak Easy: Public Speaking Makes Me Nervous

A few weeks ago I was preparing to give a presentation to the staff at the Lacey Fire District about the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program. One of my co-workers asked me if I still get nervous.  I thought a little bit before answering because it really wasn’t a simple YES or NO answer.  For me, with every opportunity to speak to a group of people, I feel a healthy dose of anxiety.  It’s just enough for me to remember that “I” am not the center of attention….. It’s the information I am giving that has to stand out!

One way that I have learned to combat those nervous bunnies is to greet people as they are coming into the meeting.

By greeting people as they are arriving, I accomplish two things:

1) I hear my own voice before I actually have to give the presentation;

By hearing my own voice ahead of time I start to get a feel for how my voice will project in the room and space.  This is a lot like a “sound check” a musician does before a concert.  It gives me a chance to be fully aware and to make any adjustments before the actual event.

2) I make a few quick connections with individuals before I have to speak to the whole group.

During an initial greeting, I usually ask a question or two about the people I meet. I ask about their family, or even just the weather or the parking experience.  Most often I get a piece of information that usually ends up being an example I can use during my presentation.  This is a lot like a “parent/teacher conference” that we go to when are kids are in school.  It’s that chance to “connect” as people.

Then, when it’s time for me to stand front and center I have already made a connection with a few different people that I can focus on and I know “how” I sound.  I have found that by doing this every time, I feel less anxious, more comfortable with the group,  and more connected to them, which in the end helps me better convey the message I intended to share.

The next time you have to speak to a group of people, start with individually greeting your audience as they arrive and see what a difference it makes.

Best Regards,

Jackie Ferrado

About the author:

Jacquelyne Ferrado started her career more than 30 years ago. She’s worked in the private sector, federal civil service, and in state government where she currently works as the Community Outreach Manager for the GET Program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Evergreen State College.

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