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Home > News and views > No need for nerves

No need for nerves

Jon Briggs, the Voice of Siri and IPSC guest judge 2019, advises on how to tame those pre-speech butterflies

Standing up on stage can be scary. Speaking in public even scarier. At secondary school I was introduced to the annual school recitation competition, an event that I was usually a finalist for but never won. I can still remember the constant thump of my heart trying to escape my chest as I walked to the allotted spot to recite something, in front of the whole school, that is now less than memorable. The palpable fear based on not just being heard and judged by others, but the potential of forgetting this stream of words that had to be delivered in the right order, or worse still, forgetting all of them no matter what the order, is what makes so many people recoil from speaking in public. So it would be wrong to think that in my years of standing in front of others, in front of cameras or behind microphones, that I have never experienced nerves. For what it’s worth, whenever you do encounter these ‘butterflies’ as we refer to them, my advice is simple. Just make them all fly in the same direction.

I am often asked if I get nervous before going on stage. I can’t say that a live interview with Bill Clinton in front of 800 Swedish CEOs is necessarily nerve-free, but in general, no. I relish what I have come to understand is a huge privilege and opportunity. If you find it hard to view public speaking as anything other than an ordeal then you have already highlighted what may hold you back in being heard.

Remember the audience is on your side – they WANT you to succeed. So give them what they want and do it with confidence.

The International Public Speaking Competition 2019 will take place at the Royal Institution, London, on Friday, 17 May from 1pm. If you would like to attend, please book your ticket here. School staff can contact for more information and can reserve up to 20 places per school.


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