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What to do 1 minute before speaking?

You have one minute remaining before beginning your presentation. Generally you are already in the meeting room, or welcoming participants, or waiting to be given the go ahead to speak. How do you optimize this minute to be more efficient? What should you do to absorb the adrenalin rush? How do you reduce your stress level while everyone is already in the room?

The first step is to reconnect with who you are, your skills, your values, your desires…stage fright, even if it manifests itself differently with each person, has a tendency to distort perceptions. Even though you’ve worked hard you still have the feeling that you’re not ready. Even though you’ve checked your material, you’re convinced that something won’t work. Put your hands flat on the closest object, a table, a wall, a bag; this can be done very discreetly. Take a few seconds to gather as much information as possible: temperature, roughness, moisture; the goal is to connect with your feelings. Relax your jaw and shoulders. Start taking breaths farther apart and deeper each time. Also, take the time to feel your lungs swell as the air rushes in. After a few seconds, the calming process begins.

Refuse any negative thoughts. Less than a minute after you begin speaking there’s no time to question yourself, it is too late. We spend all of our time soliloquizing and commenting internally on things that are happening around us. With the onset of stress-related hormones, the capacity of the brain increases and the process becomes more pronounced: I won’t make it, they won’t like me… with each of these thoughts, force yourself to reformulate them into questions: What if I made it? What if they like me? This way your thoughts will naturally open up and take into account your abilities, your motivation and hard work. This is the time to concentrate on the aim of your “stage” presence: what does my audience expect of me? What emotion do I want to convey? What is my core message?

Your minute is almost up. You still have to overcome the adrenaline rush that will seize you when you begin. Whenever your heart is racing, compensate with a deep breath. Breathing deeply is the only way to recover quickly. Before you start speaking, look around the room and if you haven’t smiled yet, it’s not too late, in fact it’s the right time.

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