Posted by: George E Burney | September 13, 2013

Imagine How You’ll Feel

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I’m sure you’ll agree that, when it comes to giving a speech, there is no substitute for thorough preparation. Just possibly, there may be someone, somewhere, who can speak brilliantly on some subject without thorough preparation, but I have my doubts.

He may not have prepared with that particular speech in mind, but over time, he accumulated the information he presents, so he really was prepared, wasn’t he? After all, even the most brilliant speaker can’t share information he doesn’t possess.

In any event, you and I need to prepare. But things don’t always turn out the way we want them to, do they? Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we don’t spend nearly as much time preparing or rehearsing a speech as we should. What then?

It’s pointless to waste the little time we have remaining, by wringing our hands over what we should have done. We’ll have enough time after giving the lecture to promise ourselves that we’ll never again be inadequately prepared. Right now, we have to make every minute count.


Here’s where you can put your imagination to work. In a couple of previous blog posts, I discussed some of the benefits of visualizing. As the word suggests, that involves seeing yourself, with your mind’s eye, as you successfully present your speech to your audience.

Visualizing also includes “seeing” in advance the platform, the room, the audience, etc. The objective is to become familiar in advance with what you’ll actually encounter when you deliver your speech. The underlying purpose is to sharply reduce your anxiety when before your audience.

A similar effect can be produced by practicing what you want to feel. One mistake speakers sometimes make is worrying about an upcoming speech. Thinking about it is one thing – worrying is another. When we worry about something, we imagine all sorts of things going wrong. That’s a misuse of our wonderful ability to imagine. It is really a rehearsal of sorts. We’re preparing to feel anxious.

Practice Your Feelings

Don’t imagine standing before your audience and feeling so nervous that your stomach is in knots, beads of sweat are forming on your brow, your collar suddenly feels too tight, and so forth.

Try something different. Imagine yourself feeling completely confident, smiling, and enjoying your presentation. Imagine feeling calm and relaxed as you speak. Dwell on those feelings and intensify them. Enjoy those feelings while simultaneously “seeing” your imaginary audience. Expect to feel that way when before your audience.

By employing both vivid visualization and intensely imagined feelings, you’ll significantly increase the likelihood of giving a successful presentation. Also, your anxiety level when you mount the platform will be reduced tremendously. Do they eliminate or reduce the need for thorough preparation? Of course not.

But when you’re running out of time, you’ll find these to be among the best tools imaginable. The only tool which would be better at that point would be the ability to somehow turn the clock back, but we’ll never have that, so we do our best with what we have.


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