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  • Writer's pictureCris

The power of communication (part 2)

Here we are again, to dive into the skills I have found very useful to tame anxiety before and during a public speech.

I've divided this post into two parts. The first will focus on the two tricks I use to calm the mind down before a speech. The second one will summarise some of the pillars presented by Ving Giang on how to face a big audience.

How to calm down before a presentation

The techniques I use to tame anxiety, heart rate and breathing are the double inhale and the thumb-holding.

About 10-15 minutes before a presentation, I try to slow my breath down by taking an additional inhale after every regular breath. It has been proven that the double inhale aids in expanding the alveoli, which are minuscule air sacs within our lungs. This expansion enhances the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Consequently, it triggers our brain to reduce the stress response, allowing us to relax. I usually do this exercise for 3-5 times.

After this, I tightly hold my left thumb inside the other fist until I can feel the thumb pulse. This exercise helps to force the respiration into a fixed and precise rhythm.

What I (try to) do during my speeches

Nobody can speak to many people together, but we're great at talking to just one person - Ving Giang

With just three or four tips, we can improve our communication skills in public. Despite being very shy, I enjoyed the last couple of presentations. I now try to practice as many public speeches as I can to practice and try different approaches.

First of all, I always try to have fun. I used to be very (very!) serious during my presentation. I thought that a plain voice, with little or no tone, would have transmitted preparation and professionalism. I now know that nothing could be further from the truth. I now try to pronounce the words with as much melody as possible (without looking mental), and I always try to maintain a friendly and relaxed voice.

Another thing I found very useful is paying attention to the people I choose to engage in eye contact with. I used to wander with my eyes from one person to another without any reason, making it impossible to establish eye contact with anybody. I now try to talk to one person at a time. I talk only to him or her until I finish a sentence. I interrupt the eye contact to re-engage with somebody else only after I end a sentence.

Also, I focus on those people who seem engaged and interested, I avoid making eye contact with people who appear disinterested, with people who play video games with their phones or send emails:). I visualize a giant red X over people who radiate bad vibes, and I never look at them again.

One last highly efficient method (but a bit more difficult to master) is called baton gestures. It consists in gesturing to the rhythm of the voice. Many great communicators are very good at it as they perfectly combine tone, rhythm, volume and gesture (difficult, but it's worth it to watch a few videos about it!).

What are your strategies to tame the anxiety before a speech or a presentation?


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