How to Not Panic During an Impromptu Speech
Public speaking is terrifying. It’s the number one fear in the entire world – beating out sharks, spiders and even death itself! Unfortunately, we’ll all have to face a public speaking instance at some point in our lives. Sometimes, we can plan ahead – such as when we receive a speech assignment at school. Other times, however, we’re caught completely off guard. Individuals that find themselves in impromptu speech situations – whether in school or elsewhere – can be, understandably, overcome with anxiety. Nobody like to be ‘put on the spot’ – but sometimes, you just can’t avoid it. When you find yourself in this situation, how can you avoid a complete panic attack? How can you stop yourself from clamming up, freaking out or even fainting?
Calm down. There are a few simple tricks you can try – tricks that politicians, civil rights activists, and even actors use in impromptu speech situations. If you don’t want to be caught unawares in a sudden speech, try out these techniques – they’re worked for thousands of people, and they can definitely work for you!
- If possible, rehearse beforehand If a speech is impromptu, you sometimes don’t have a lot of time think ahead. However, if you do manage to have some planning time – even if it’s a couple minutes – take advantage of it! Just making a game plan and knowing the path of your speech can be enough to calm your nerves.
- Don’t talk at the audience; talk to them. The audience is not some blood-hungry beast waiting to devour you. In fact, if you communicate with the audience in a friendly, easy manner, odds are they’ll react in the same way. Realize that the audience isn’t there to judge and demean you: they’re there to listen. Ask them questions, tell jokes and even survey their own opinions. It will take some of the pressure off you in the long run.
- Focus on your main goal or argument. This can be tough if you’re giving a speech on the spot, but it should be one of the first things you do. Know what your main point is, and revolved around it. Let the audience know what you’ll be arguing or proving from the get-go, and keep returning to that point. You’ll find it’s easier to keep the speech going when you have that anchor holding you down.
- Breathe slowly and have a drink on hand. Never underestimate the power of paced breathing and a cool glass of water. Keeping your breathing steady will keep the rest of you steady, while fueling your brain with thought-provoking oxygen. At the same time, having a glass of water on hand can provide needed moisture for a dry mouth, while also offering a few seconds of relief and silence to gather your thoughts.