When you are out of your comfort zone and under pressure, your body releases adrenalin. This is a natural defence mechanism of the body – “the fight or flight” response. Most of you will be familiar with this and experience it as “nerves”.
It manifests itself in a number of ways. Symptoms you may recognise include: sweating of palms, speaking very quickly, trembling in the voice, going red and shaking.
From a speaking point of view, one of the key things to remember is its impact on your timing. Critically, adrenalin distorts your perception of time. This is especially so in relation to pausing and silence. As the speaker in front of a group, what to you seems like an eternity in reality is only a short pause. In natural conversational speaking we actually pause quite a bit and sometimes for quite a long time.
So to reproduce this relaxed conversational style faithfully you need to exaggerate any pauses/the silence in order to create the desired effect. Knowing and acting on this simple fact puts you at a significant advantage as it puts you back in control of the situation.
For the next month each time you speak in a potentially stressful situation practice holding that silence and watch the results.