Do you ramble when you’re nervous?

Linda Coyle

Do you talk too much when you’re nervous?

Rambling rose, rambling rose
Why you ramble, no one knows”  

                                 Nat King Cole

 

 

 

 

 

When we’re nervous about speaking, we’re likely to do one of two things, freeze and not say anything, or let the pendulum swing the other way and ramble. We say more, repeat ourselves, repeat ourselves a little differently, or go off on tangents. It’s possible that we may not really have noticed what we said in the first place! We talk faster, barely catching a breath, and may talk at a higher pitch than usual. Does any of this sound familiar?

 

So, why do we ramble when we’re nervous about speaking?

Ultimately this is linked to fear, or nervousness around the speaking situation. Why do we do this? I’ve been mulling over this question, and I think that there are three reasons.

We’re busy in our head: The more nervous we get about a speaking situation, the more we move into our head. Our head is racing, gets busy, and the words tumble around our heads and out of our mouths!

We’re afraid of silence: Silence is so scary! So, if in doubt, fill it!

We distract ourselves: If we keep talking it can distract us from how nervous we’re feeling. It also shields us from feeling judged by the listener. I’ve written more about feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking, which you can read here.

 

Does it matter if we ramble when we’re nervous?

Well, yes, because, if we’re rambling:

  • We’re not listening
  • We’re not getting our key message out there.
  • We’re not being truly present in the moment.
  • We’re not connecting with our listener

 

What can you do about rambling when you’re nervous?

To me it comes back to two key things, being in our body and being in the moment…but actually, this could be narrowed down to one…being in our body. Because if we’re more aware of our body, we are in the here and now, and are present. When we’re more present, we can sit with our uncomfortable feelings…about silence, about what the listener thinks of us, and not go off into a spiral of panic, and we can be pleasantly surprised by our ability to cope!

So, how to do this? There are many ways. The simplest way that I find, is to simply stop, close my eyes, and scan down through my body, being curious and interested, noticing what I’m experiencing. Other people may find that taking a deep breath is really helpful.  Whichever method you choose, the key result is a quietening of the incessant chatter, busyness and panic in your head, and in that quietness you get clarity….and it’s hard to ramble when it’s quiet.

So, instead of rambling out loud take a moment to ramble through your body, connect with it, and you’ll find that it all feels a lot easier!

 

What are your thoughts?

Do you ramble or do you freeze…or perhaps a bit of both?!

When does this happen to you?

 

If you’re interested in the song ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ here’s a version by Chuck Berry:

 

Other posts about speaking when nervous which may interest you:

Feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking.

Why our body is so important for successful speaking.

The gift of the gab: Is it something we’re born with?

Linda Coyle

The Collins dictionary says that if someone has the gift of the gab, they are able to speak easily and confidently, and to persuade people. While kissing the Blarney stone is an option, for those who don’t feel confident when it comes to speaking up, or are debilitated by glossophobia, it can feel like it’s either something you have or don’t have. But, that’s simply not true. While some people are comfortable speaking in any situation, most of us experience varying degrees of nerves when it comes to public speaking. As Mark Twain said, “There are only two types of speakers in the world- the nervous and the liars!”

The key is to figure out what’s getting in your way with speaking confidently and then know what to do. A big part of that is getting to know what you’re afraid of…it seems counter intuitive, but it is very much the case of ‘Feel the fear and say it anyway!’

Reframe nervous as excited

The interesting thing is that you don’t need to feel confident in order to speak confidently…and if we get stuck with that fantasy, (for want of a better word), then we’re bound to get stuck. One simple idea is to reframe fear as excited. This is but one practical idea which I’ve covered in my 5 day e-course on speaking with confidence.

 

 

I developed this e-course based on tried and tested tools and techniques that I’ve used with many of my clients who I’ve seen either one to one, or at my workshops. Click here to find out more about the e-course ‘Speak with confidence in only 5 days, and in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, and all things Irish, I’m offering a 25% discount on Simply type the code: PADDYS18 at the checkout. Offer is only available until 23rd March, so sign up quick!

Why “(Just) calm down” is bad advice for nervous speakers.

Linda Coyle

Saying, “Calm down,” to a nervous speaker is just not helpful!

 

Many people find public speaking difficult, even terrifying, and given the choice, would rather not have to talk, but unfortunately (or perhaps more accurately fortunately!) we sometimes need to do something, even though it terrifies us! Typically people feel nervous when faced with a speaking situation. While we may experience nervousness differently in our body, it’s something that we can all relate to. a feeling which we can all relate to. Symptoms of nerves when we’re about to speak include sweaty palms, racing heart beat, tight chest, dry mouth and/or nausea. So how do you cope with these anxious feelings when you’re feeling nervous about speaking? Advice people hear, be it from others or within their own heads is to “(Just) calm down.” I don’t agree! Watch my video to find out more!

I’ve three problems with the advice, “Calm down”:

1) It doesn’t work: If you’ve ever tried to think yourself into a calm state by saying ‘calm down’, then let me know! Frequently people tell me that they try to tell themselves to calm down, but that they still struggle with presenting, and/or their voice shakes.

2) You’re seeing nerves as a problem: Feeling nervous is energy flowing through our body from adrenaline. Adrenaline energises us and gets us ready for action. We want this energy so that we can speak with passion and enthusiasm.

3) You’re fighting against your body. Our bodies have such wisdom, and ultimately if we fight against our body we lose. Instead, listening to the internal signals that we’re getting and accepting them can empower us to move forward, rather than be stuck in a state of fear and dread.

So, the solution is to embrace these nerves as energy that’s in your body and let it flow. Sounds great in theory, but how do we do this? In my workshops I share different ways in which you can learn to do this. One simple technique is to re-frame it from nervous…to excited. This technique was researched by Alison Wood Brooks (2014) who found that people who  said to themselves, “I’m excited” before carrying out one of three tasks- karaoke singing, public speaking and Maths, performed better than those who said, ‘I’m nervous’ or who said nothing at all. She called this ‘reappraising anxiety as excitement’. So, the next time you need to give a presentation, focus on feeling excited, and let me know how you get on!

Other articles related to speaking with confidence which may interest you:

Lisa Kelly’s review of her top 4 speakers at Womens Inspire Network Conference in October 2017. I was delighted to be included in her list!

Women’s Inspire Network National Event, Self-care in business, 10th October 2017

Linda Coyle

I’m delighted to be a speaker at the forthcoming Women’s Inspire Network National Event, ‘Self-care in business‘ on Tuesday 10th October at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport. The tile of my talk is, ‘Feel the fear and say it anyway!’ I’m looking forward to meeting lots of inspiring women…and the occasional man!

Speakers at self care in business, Women’s Inspire Network

 

“You had me at hello,”…First impressions do count!

Linda Coyle

You had me at hello! First Impressions do count

Listeners readily form an impression of the personality of a speaker, and this is not easily changed! This phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘Jerry Maguire effect’ from the infamous line in the film Jerry Maguire. It is based on research which has shown that listeners make millisecond decisions about a person’s personality, and whether or not they trust someone, based on the sound of their voice.

Researchers McAleer et al (2014), in the University of Glasgow conducted a study in which listeners rated 64 different audio clips of speakers saying the word ‘hello’ across a range of personality traits. These included trustworthiness, aggressiveness, confidence, dominance and warmth.

They found that judgements were consistent across listeners. In particular, they found that  men who said hello with a higher pitched voice were deemed to be more trustworthy, but that for women it was based on a greater rise in pitch between the first and second vowel of ‘he-llo’.

So, what does this mean? Well while first impressions are influenced by a range of factors, such as appearance, facial expression, and body language, it is clear that the sound of your voice is crucial.

So, if your voice is not transmitting your authentic, vibrant personality, then you need to do something about it….but don’t worry I can help!

Find out more

 


					

© [2018] Linda Coyle, Speak Brilliantly. All rights reserved.