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analysis

THE STRESS AND NERVOUSNESS

OF COMMUNICATION

Martin Opatrný is a Communication expert and advisor on Media and Crisis Communication. He gained his present experience both in the private sector and in civil service. Before his previous engagement as spokesperson and advisor for the Prague City Hall Opencard project, Martin worked in Interel – the European strategic communications group that offers an integrated approach to top level public relations and affairs. He also worked as press secretary and spokesperson for the President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament. He obtained most of his professional experience and skills in the Public Relations Department of the Ministry for Regional Development, where he served as acting departmental head, spokesperson and Editor-in-Chief of their official website. Martin also acquired his practical work skills as a journalist for Czech Television, a PR agent at a private PR agency and a professional freelance writer. He now teaches Media and Crisis Communication at Charles University in Prague, conducts courses and trainings on communication and gives freelance advice across his field of expertise. Martin graduated from the Philosophical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague, where he obtained his PhDr. degree in cultural studies, with a specialization in mass communication and psychology. He also studied management and marketing. You can find more on: http://cz.linkedin.com/in/martinopatrny and reach him at: martin.op@centrum.cz. Those who claim they do not know stress and nervousness are lying. Stage-fright is quite usual even for skilled speakers. It confirms anchorman Larry King’s quote that “stage-fright is a  sign you seriously care about your speech or presentation.” Heart pounding, mouth dry, breathing shallow, sweating – all simply signs of stress, affecting every

speech negatively. Is it possible to eliminate these symptoms of nervousness? Yes indeed. The solution is not expensive courses, but careful preparation and especially practice and experience. Stress is often merely a normal reaction to a new situation and unpreparedness. At minimum, a few minutes spent preparing will significantly reduce

the stress. It is always necessary to have a time allowance and to know your audience. Before your speech it’s very helpful to have a small talk to warm up the vocal cords for duty. As with any other muscle, vocal cords need exercise. Instead of barbells, read aloud for at least 20 minutes. Breathing is very important as well. Before the speech, it’s is useful to take a  deep breath and exhale slowly, repeating three or four times. Alcohol, strong coffee or sweet beverages are definitely not recommended before a speech. Stress always washes out the adrenalin, accelerating our reaction and perception. Coffee dehydrates and sweet drinks slow the process, so plain water is the best solution, especially during a speech. It helps cool down the vocal cords and fill in the time in case of memory blackout. Many speakers choose to begin a speech with long and flowery sentences, a  big mistake and handicap for the speaker as well as his or her audience. Long sentences are hard to remember, as well as to listen to and understand. Inexperienced speakers may suffer shortness of breath under stress and so prepared sentences become infinity long. In case of trouble, it is better to be honest and open and admit to nervousness or a  technical problem. It is more professional to take a  short break at a moment like this and give technicians the opportunity to rectify the failure, rather than try to repair it yourself. In case of memory blackout, skilled speakers summarize their previous points, the thought often appearing afterwards. If not, audiences always appreciate openness, so it is sometimes better to admit searching for the just the right expression rather than double-speaking. This is similar to stress itself. The more we try to hide our stress and nervousness, the worse our speech may be. By Martin Opatrný ■ český překlad naleznete v elektronické verzi magazínu na www.leadersmagazine.cz

IN COOPERATION WITH LEADERS MAGAZINE

Leaders Magazine I/2014 85

Prague Leaders Magazine Issue 01/2014  

Exclusive Interviews, Event Photo Coverages, Interesting Opinions and Analysis

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