Public Speaking Tip – Stay Calm When Under Pressure

In public speaking, it’s very important that we’re able to stay calm when under pressure or when things go wrong. Staying calm helps us remain on message, look confident and remain credible in our message.

Pressure can arise from several sources and good speakers remain calm and carry on regardless. Pressure can arise from:

  • Difficult questions
  • Equipment failures including laptops not talking to data projectors or sound systems not working
  • A complete power failure/outage
  • Angry people or hecklers who are opposed to what you are saying

These mishaps can and do happen from time to time when public speaking. When one of these situations arise, you need to learn how to remain calm while under fire. So, while you are panicking and inwardly cursing the situation, you keep calm, smile and keep your composure. There’s no point taking it out on the audio-visual team, the audience, your laptop or the event organiser. The reality is that the show must go on. Here are some simple steps to ensure that you remain calm:-

  • Become good at deep breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Do lots of preparation to minimise risk
  • Have a plan B, or back up strategy (use flipcharts instead of PowerPoint)
  • Prepare answers to difficult and left field questions
  • Have a prepared response to hecklers that is strong, maintains your control, without putting them down – See Barack Obama deal with a heckler.

Even when you prepare well and test equipment, things can still go wrong and you must stay calm and remember that the show must go on.

If you want to learn more about public speaking and presentation skills, I have an upcoming workshop on Winning Presentation Skills in Broome on 21 May

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