Combating Oral Argument Anxiety with Karaoke

by Suzie on April 27, 2012 · 0 comments


Do you dread giving presentations? Are you terrified of oral arguments? Have you tried nerve-calming techniques that do not work for you?

Of course we all want to do well and that’s usually the problem.  We’re afraid of failure, of not knowing the answers to questions, of forgetting something, of losing the oral argument.  Unfortunately that fear causes us to make those mistakes we dread. But there is hope.

Believe it or not, Karaoke helped turn me into a presentation ninja. As a lawyer I used to dread court appearances and needed something to help me become more effective when going out of my litigation comfort zone. I originally decided on Karaoke because sining in front of others terrified me more than oral argument, so what better way to address my fear head-on! (see Conquering Your Nerves While Singing and Getting Over Stage Fright)

It took A LOT of courage for me to do my first night of Karaoke but I found a place for every night of the week and I did it.  As I stood glued in front of the TV monitor, looking closely at the lyrics, I was stone faced and shook terribly.

However, after about two weeks, I was moving around comfortably. To my surprise, I noticed that my comfort level had dramatically increased not only with singing publicly but for all communication.

That is not to say that traditional methods, such as taking deep breaths, exercise, and being prepared don’t work. They can alleviate some tension.  Deep breaths and exercise, such as hopping in place, can be done pretty much up to the presentation. However, being prepared is done in advance and should be a given.

To prepare, do any of the following that are relevant to your task.

  • Create a To Do list to keep organized
  • Conduct thorough research so you know your topic/case/issue well
  • Create an outline, handouts, slides, questionnaires, court documents, checklists, and any other relevant items
  • Practice your presentation in front of the mirror (note your body language) and in front of others (see 18 Ways to Improve Your Body Language and Body Language Signals 1/3 into the article)
  • Check your appearance: set aside what you will wear; get a hair cut or shave if needed

(See also Battling Nerves and How do You Get Over Your Nerves?)

Although these techniques can certainly help, especially being prepared, Karaoke was instrumental in substantially relaxing my nerves and eliminating my anxiety. As such, I challenge you to muster up the courage to try Karaoke if you have trouble with nerves and anxiety.  Go at least 3 days per week for 2 weeks and report back on your progress via Comment to this post. Sing something you like and sing with someone else if that gets you up there. The nerves and anxiety can come back if you stop the Karaoke and don’t present regularly as this happened to me, but with enough courage and perseverance even the toughest oral arguments can begin to be fun.


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