Know the Rules
Top ten tips for confidence - ESU's guidance for speakers(8)
• Know well what you’re going to say, and have clear and easy-to-follow notes in front of you.
• Know your first sentence off by heart.
• Avoid wearing uncomfortable clothes or distracting jewellery – tie your hair back if necessary.
• Have a sip of water before you go up to speak. Keep the glass near at hand.
• Breathe deeply, using your diaphragm, not your chest (your stomach should move out if you’re doing it right).
• Start clearly and loudly from the very first word.
• Make eye contact with the audience from the start – if you’re still too nervous to do that, look at the middle of their foreheads – they don’t be able to tell the difference!
• If you stumble over a sentence, or momentarily forget what you were going to say, don’t try to talk your way out of it. Just stop, have a drink of water or simply pause, breathe deeply and start again.
• Smile at the audience – they’re not hostile.
• Relax and enjoy yourself – having a whole room of people listen to you is a rare experience and can be exhilarating!
Reproduced by permission from the Centre for Speech and Debate of ESU (The English-Speaking Union)
Competition Handbook 2007
©The English-Speaking Union
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