Some people are terrified just by the thought of public speaking; other people are nervous right before and during the opening of their speech or presentation. Is there a difference between the two? Most definitely. Fear is debilitating while I find nervousness to be a blessing.

Webster’s Dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”

In public speaking, those who experience true fear have difficulty preparing, rehearsing and delivering their material because of the anticipation of danger, specifically injury, pain or loss. What is the actual danger in public speaking? As I mentioned in another article, while the majority of the population may be more afraid of public speaking than death, no one has yet died while delivering a speech or presentation and I seriously doubt that you will be the first to claim that honor!

So, the good news is that you will not die, whether you do a great job or a not-so-memorable one! What other danger does public speaking present? Forgetting your material or losing your train of thought? Those are not dangers. They are misfortunes, but they are not dangerous. In neither of those situations will you be harmed, possibly embarrassed but definitely not physically harmed.

While the description of nervousness encompasses a variety of emotions and physical traits – from sinewy, strong, or spirited, to excited, jumpy, or apprehensive – it never once mentions the word danger.

The real difference between fear and nervousness is that fear is debilitating and produces only negative results. Nervousness, on the other hand, can be very beneficial because the rush of adrenaline heightens your senses and increases your awareness.

I had a client who was being ‘ordered’ by her boss to give presentations on mortgages at the various branches of the bank for which she worked. What this woman experienced was not nervousness but debilitating fear. When she stood to introduce herself during our group session, she later admitted that she had thought she was going to vomit (and that was just a personal introduction!).

After learning how to breathe with the support of her diaphragm, the fear went away and she then approached her presentations with a nervous energy that she was able to harness. To this day, Diane is successfully speaking weekly at the various branches and cannot get over what a difference breathing has made in her life.

It is truly the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. To see how voice training can improve your life, both professionally and personally, visit Voice Dynamic or watch a brief video as The Voice Lady describes The 5 Characteristics of Dynamic Public Speaking.

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