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‘Speak the Speech, I pray you’. Overcoming nerves and the language of rhetoric. Context. ACKNOWLEGE: For most public speaking will be challenging NORMALISE:

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Speak the speech i pray you

‘Speak the Speech, I pray you’

Overcoming nerves

and the language of




  • For most public speaking will be challenging


  • Don’t expect them to speak without having some nervousness. In fact, some anxiety is usually helpful to motivate higher performance.

  • Discuss managing anxiety. What ideas they have for coping with public speaking anxiety


  • You have the capacity to speak even though they feel afraid

Practice practice practice
Practice, Practice, Practice!

  • Even people who are comfortable speaking in public tend to rehearse their speeches many times to get them just right. Practicing your speech 10, 20 or even 30 times will give you confidence in your ability to deliver. If your talk has a time limit, make sure to time yourself during practice runs and adjust your content as needed to fit within the time that you have. Lots of practice will go a long way toward boosting your self-confidence.

Get some perspective
Get Some Perspective

  • This might be particularly difficult for people with social anxiety, as it involves observing yourself while you are speaking. During one practice run, speak while in front of a mirror or have a friend run a videotape. Make note of how you appear. This is a good way to identify nervous habits. If, however, you feel that doing this exercise would just make you more nervous -- skip it for now. People with social anxiety need to learn how to focus outward rather than on themselves. This step is probably best done once you have a few successful performances under your belt.

Imagine yourself succeeding
Imagine Yourself Succeeding

 Our brains are funny organs -- they can’t tell the difference between an imagined activity and a real one. Elite athletes use this form of visualization to improve athletic performance. As you practice your speech (remember 10, 20 or even 30 times!) imagine yourself wowing the audience with your amazing oratorical skills. Over time, what you imagine will be translated into what you are capable of. Not sure whether this would really work? Well, let’s consider the opposite. If you imagine giving a horrible speech and having terrible anxiety -- what do you think is going to happen? The cycle of anxiety is as much a self-fulfilling prophecy as it is a reaction to an event. Learn to visualize success and your body will follow suit


  • Getting daily exercise can help to keep anxiety at bay, and a good run or cardio workout in the morning of the day of your speech will keep your endorphins running high and anxiety levels low.

Eye contact
Eye contact

  • When you have good eye contact with your audience, they will feel more connected to what you are saying. If looking into the eyes of strangers feels uncomfortable, have three or four friends positioned throughout the room and rotate your gaze amongst them while you speak. If you are comfortable looking around at the audience, try to gauge whether they are keeping up with you or if you need to slow down or explain things in more detail.


  • Alliteration

  • Anaphora

  • Hyperbole

  • Metaphor

  • Simile

  • Pause

  • Clear structure

  • Maintain focus

  • Rhetorical questions

  • Answer the Q

  • Eye contact

  • Avoid reading notes

  • Annunciation

  • Practise stumbling parts

  • Enjoy the speech