Imagine you have been invited as the after dinner speaker at a local club or organization and they are serving wine with the meal. Should you partake? I would tell you to stick to water or coffee or tea. While you may find one alcoholic drink or one glass of wine relaxing and a good means of settling your nerves, I beg to differ.
Some years ago, I was invited to speak to a group of female insurance agents at their monthly meeting. Wine was being served with the meal. I had one glass. Admittedly, I drink very little alcohol but I could not imagine that one glass of wine would hurt.
Hurt it did because I lost my edge. When I rose to speak, I was overly confident and I experienced no nervousness. Prior to that engagement and in all the others that have followed, I experience nervousness. I like nervousness; I want you, as the public speaker, nervous because if you aren’t nervous, then I am concerned.
You can never be that confident in a live performance – that one glass of wine gave me a confidence I did not deserve and I did not want. I was not as focused and I lost my passion for my topic because the adrenaline was not rushing to do its job. While I count on nervousness to give me an edge, to help take my presentation to a whole new level, the secret in dealing with it is learning how to control it. When you are in control of your nervousness, you will discover how to let it work for you and not against you.
Later in my career, I was invited to speak to the executives at Labatt’s Beer in London, Ontario. I was offered a beer to drink during my presentation. (That was a first!) I declined, however, remembering well my experience with the insurance women.
Having that edge in public speaking, experiencing the rush of adrenaline is truly a blessing when facing an audience. Avoid the alcohol so to keep that edge. Trust me, your audience will appreciate your delivery so much more so.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, group and corporate training in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit her website at Voice Dynamic and watch as Nancy describes the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.