Your mouth gets dry. Your heart starts racing. Your legs turn to jelly.
It can only mean one thing.
You’ve got to stand up in front of an audience and deliver that key pitch, presentation or speech.
Before you reach for the pills or the gin, or both, wait.
I want to offer you simple examples of how to overcome those fears, courtesy of some extraordinary communicators.
And share the secrets of how they appear to effortlessly engage with people.
The peerless Sir Terry Wogan.
His method was always the same. Although he enthralled an audience of millions on a daily basis, he always imagined he was speaking to just one person.
That intimacy and warmth meant each one of his devoted listeners believed he was talking to them and them alone.
This was never bettered than when Sir Terry presented his final BBC Radio Two Wake Up To Wogan Show. It’s worth another listen (but do have a hankie at the ready!)
Spine tingling isn’t it?
One of my favourite broadcasters, who has been described, quite rightly in my view, as having “more charisma than any other female presenter of her generation” has a similar knack.
When you listen to Lauren Laverne, see above chatting with me at Advertising Week Europe, you get that same feeling, that she’s talking just to you.
A similar technique was used by another of our great entertainers, who sadly, like Sir Tel, is also no longer with us.
Miss Cilla Black.
Although Cilla topped the charts, was great friends with The Beatles and went on to become one of British TV’s most popular presenters, she too had her own way of relaxing herself and relating to the millions who tuned in to Blind Date or Surprise Surprise.
She referred to her camera – the one she looked straight into, the one that again, made each of the viewers at home feel like she was only talking to them, as ‘Bobby’.
Every time that red light went on and Cilla came into our living rooms, she imagined she was talking to her beloved husband and manager Bobby, (seen above).
It put her at ease to think she was chatting to the person who meant more to her than anyone else, and it meant the rest of us felt that inherent warmth and sense of fun.
The worst thing you can do when you are addressing a crowd is to avoid eye contact or stare above people’s heads.
It looks odd, makes people feel uncomfortable and can seem like you are shifty and have something to hide.
You’ll lose your audience before you’ve begun.
Engage with people, look them in the eye and in terms of tone, when you are practising imagine you are talking to one person, your ‘Bobby’.
It doesn’t matter who that is. It’s someone you know, trust and value the opinion of.
It will help you to relax and get the pace and feel of the delivery just right.