National Post (Latest Edition)

HOW TO BLUFF YOUR WAY THROUGH PUBLIC SPEAKING.

Eight time-tested steps to conquer your anxieties and dupe a roomful of people into believing you know what you’re doing with a mic at a lectern

- Calum Marsh

An invitation to a speech is a grave penalty for most. Three out of four people harbour a deep-seated anxiety over public speaking, according to Psychology Today. Those polled even claimed to fear public speaking more than death – perhaps an exaggerate­d confession, but one that surely taps into something profound and ineradicab­le in human nature.

That looming dread is called glossophob­ia, and it entails more anguish in an average person’s lifetime than most other avoidable causes of stress, not least because, in the summertime especially, it can be nearly impossible to get out of it.

The sweaty palms and suddenly inexplicab­le hiccups that beleaguer the would-be speaker can be counted on to strike as soon as one taps the champagne glass at the wedding reception or takes the podium at the commenceme­nt address. We spend all day every day talking to one another without the slightest discomfort, but if it’s before a crowd of people, we’d rather light ourselves on fire than open our mouths to speak.

There are, however, ways to alleviate the strain that do not involve self-immolation.

I am not referring to methods for improving your ability to speak or mastering the art of disquisiti­on, but rather something much easier: deluding your audience into believing you are better than you are and, perhaps more importantl­y, reducing your capacity to care what they think of you in the first place. After all, what matters about a speech is not that you speak well or sermonize persuasive­ly. What matters is that you survive with minimal damage to your dignity and maximum credit to your poise.

You needn’t do a good job. People only need to think you did.

With that in mind, we here present the National Post’s official guide to bluffing your way through public speaking: eight time-tested steps to conquering your anxieties and duping the room of your choice.

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EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTYIMAGE­S

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