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Speaking in public itself is not inherently stressful, but our response to the stimulus can contribute to or reduceour level of stress. We all will have a stress response to a new, unknown, or unfamiliar stimulus. Nevertheless,the butterflies in our stomach are a response we can choose to control by becoming more familiar with theexpectations, preparation, and performance associated with speaking in public.You Don’t Have to Be PerfectYou Don’t Have to Be PerfectLetting go of perfection can be the hardest guideline to apply to ourselves. It’s also in our nature to compareourselves to others and ourselves. You might forgive a classmate for the occasional “umm” during a speech, but
then turn right around and spend a lot of mental effort chastising yourself for making the same error in yourpresentation. We all have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yourself and where you need to improveis an important first step. Recognizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that you won’t become a world-classspeaker overnight, may be easier said than done.It may help to recognize that your listeners don’t want to see you fail; on the contrary, they want you to do well,because when you do, they will be able to relax and enjoy your presentation. You might be surprised to knowthat not everyone counts each time you say “umm.” However, if “umm,” “ahhh,” or “you know what I mean” arephrases that you tend to repeat, they will distract your audience from your message. Eliminating such distractinghabits can become a goal for improvement. Improvement is a process, not an end in itself; in fact, many peoplebelieve that learning to speak in public is more about the journey than the destination. Each new setting, context,and audience will present new challenges, and your ability to adapt, learned through your journey of experience,will help you successfully meet each new challenge.Organization Is Key to SuccessOrganization Is Key to SuccessHave you ever thought of a great comeback to something someone said a while after they said it? Wouldn’t it havebeen nice to be quick and articulate and able to deliver your comeback right then and there? Speaking in publicgives you a distinct advantage over “off the cuff” improvisation and stumbling for the right comeback. You get toprepare and be organized. You know you’ll be speaking to an audience in order to persuade them to do, think, orconsider an idea or action.What issues might they think of while you are speaking? What comebacks or arguments might they say if itwere a debate? You get to anticipate what the audience will want to know, say, or hear. You get to prepare yourstatements and visual aids to support your speech and create the timing, organization, and presentation of eachpoint. Many times in life we are asked to take a position and feel unprepared to respond. Speaking in public givesyou the distinct opportunity to prepare and organize your ideas or points in order to make an impact and respondeffectively.