Practicing Panic Makes You A Better Speaker

Why is embracing panic so important? Because…

Appearing calm under pressure is a sign of leadership.

Not knowing how to respond to panic can prevent you from starting in the first place. Fear of public speaking. Fear of failure. Fear of getting punched in the face. Fear of starting your own business. Fear of looking stupid in front of a crowded room.

After tonight’s Toastmasters International Speech Contest (Round 2, Area 82) in Sacramento, CA, I had a good hour-long chat with an audience member. Since they do Jiu-Jitsu, we stumbled on a good analogy for the benefit of embracing panic:

Just like the “panic” your body feels when you’re getting choked out in Jiu-Jitsu, you gotta practice feeling the “panic” of making mistakes while speaking in front of a live audience. Just like you get practice time on the Jiu-Jitsu mat, you gotta get practice time at a Toastmasters club and in speech contests.

Practicing panic-filled situations pushes you way out in front of everybody else! In public speaking, your biggest fear will be what to do when you’re competing in a speech contest and you forget your lines – like one of my speech competitors did during her speech last night. What do you actually do?

Just like getting choked-out in Jiu-Jitsu, you needed to have already put yourself in a panic situation so you know how your body reacts when it panics. In Jiu-Jitsu, you gotta get on the mat and feel it – and practice all of the next-move responses. Same in public speaking. You need the experience of making mistakes in front of a live audience. You need to know what your body feels like when you forget your next line.

Practice panic in the safety of the dojo and the safety of a Toastmasters club, so you can out-perform everybody else when you’re out in the real world!

The actions you can take are: get on the Jiu-Jitsu mat and compete; get in front of a Toastmasters club audience and compete in speech contests.

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