How I learned to Speak Faster on My Feet
Have you lost a great deal of confidence in public speaking? Do your palms sweat or does your mind go blank when the spotlight is on you? First things first, you are not alone! Many people experience this sudden hike in anxiety, which is caused due to the intense pressure of speaking out in public. No one enjoys answering unexpected questions or the sudden awkwardness of hundreds of eyes staring at you, waiting for an answer. It’s extremely stressful!
However, not all has been lost, there is still hope for you! Yes, it is possible to learn to speak faster, clearly and confidently on your feet. It all boils down to practicing a couple of tactics and skills that are mentioned in this article and you’ll be all set to speak out confidently and concisely on your feet.
Learn to Relax While Under Pressure
It is imperative to learn how to relax your nerves while your body is under pressure. This involves practicing proper breathing techniques, which will effectively calm your senses and make you more focused towards your goal. It is vital to slow down your breathing and eliminate your inner voice. By lengthening and deepening your breath, you will be releasing low levels of hormone neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine, thereby, creating a relaxed response. In addition to this, breathing slowly also reduces our heart rate and blood pressure.
To eliminate the ‘mind chatter,’ it is best to concentrate on the rhythm of your breath or use meditation techniques, which is an even more effective solution. Another great solution is to repeat questions in your mind as this gives you time to think about a response.
Pay Close Attention & Pause
It is quite obvious that concentrating solely on the questioner and listening without any distraction will deem a successful answer, especially for technical individuals. In order to deliver a successful answer that challenges the questioner, it is important that you pay close attention to the question being asked and establish stronger eye contact to showcase confidence. In case you are unclear about the question, look directly at the questioner and ask him/her to repeat the question. A great technique is to repeat the questions so that you are able to rephrase it slightly. Allowing it to be less aggressive and broader in focus, this is a great help especially when you are feeling stressed.
What’s more, you should always pause before responding so that you look careful, thoughtful and respectful. Even if you know the answer, preventing yourself from blurting it out as this might make you look anxious and insecure.
When you are under pressure, it is most likely that you will either ramble or answer too briefly. That’s why it is important that you keep your nerves in check as it allows you to select the best organization structure. Learning a couple of impromptu response structures will structure your answers to be more confident and organized. There are three types of impromptu responses: PREP (Position, reason, example, position), PEP (Point, Example, Point) and dividing your responses.
I learned and practiced many of these skills at the Improv Dojo. Weekly practice getting up and performing has made me more confident, comfortable and oh, yes.....Faster on My Feet.