Stay Calm While You’re Speaking

Thousands of people pass through our Public Speaking Classes workshops each year and the majority of them aren’t just nervous about public speaking, it terrifies them. They’re scared of messing up; they’re scared they’ll look foolish; they’re scared something will go wrong and their presentation will be ruined.

Let’s just put it out there: Sometimes that stuff happens. It’s happened to us, it’s probably happened to you, and I’d be willing to bet something has gone wrong during at least one presentation you’ve attended.

The great thing about fear is that it’s instinctual and perfectly natural. If you’re feeling nervous about public speaking, it’s because you should. Public speaking, per se, is not a natural activity and so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that even seasoned public speakers experience a few butterflies before they step up to the mic.

The important thing to note here is that despite feeling nervous about public speaking, they still get up and do it. And you can do it, too.

What Make Us Nervous About Public Speaking?

We communicate with people every day—our families, our friends, our colleagues—and there’s nothing scary about it. It’s not until we are placed in front of someone else that we suddenly feel anxious. What’s so different?

If we’re honest with ourselves, there really is no difference. Whether you’re speaking to one person, or four, or 4,000, the very same thing is happening.; a message is being given and received. So one of the first steps to freeing yourself of the anxiety that grips you at the mere thought of speaking in front of a group is to realize that although public speaking is not a natural activity, communicating with other people is. Once you can look at public speaking differently—as a conversation rather than a performance—then you can begin to develop some key strategies to calm your nerves ahead of your presentation.

Calm Your Nerves With These Public Speaking Tips

Fear is the body’s way of preparing its defence. The wave of nausea you feel and the shakiness you experience is because adrenaline is surging through your body. If there was real danger, that adrenaline would serve you well by giving you strength, both mentally and physically, that you didn’t think possible.

Because fear is an instinct, it may never go away completely, no matter how many times you give a presentation. But rather than spending your energy trying to calm your nerves right before public speaking, why not come up with strategies to calm your nerves ahead of time so that you can put the shot of adrenaline that you know is coming to work in a positive way, one that will make you an enthusiastic and compelling public speaker?

5 Tips to Calm Your Public Speaking Nerves

The greatest fear is that of the unknown. So what’s your best defence against your public speaking fear? Minimize what you don’t know:

  • Your Audience – When you know who’s in the audience (even if it’s just the demographic), you can prepare a presentation that appeals to them. Everything from how you dress to the vocabulary you use can be planned by knowing who’s listening.
  • Your Material – When you’re invited to deliver a presentation, it’s because someone believes you’re qualified to do it, so know your material. What is the most important information your audience should have? When you’re sure of your content, you’ll be more sure of yourself and less nervous.
  • Your Delivery – How will you transition from one thought to the next? A structured presentation gives you control, and feeling in control will leave you feeling more confident.
  • Your Presentation – You may feel ridiculous doing it in front of the mirror, but rehearsing your delivery—from the words you’ll use to the gestures you’ll make—is incredibly important. Better yet, record yourself so you can see for yourself what others will see. It’s a great way to refine your presentation.
  • Your Ability to Self-Calm – Fear may be an instinct, but it’s not more powerful that your mind. Investigate self-calming techniques such as deep breathing to help you calm your public speaking nerves. Sometimes simply challenging your fear is enough. Ask yourself: What exactly am I scared of? Are these fears justified? What’s the worst that can happen? (And what will happen if “the worst” happens?)

Public Speaking is Good!

The next time you feel nervous about public speaking, focus instead on the benefits of doing it instead of the fear of doing it. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will always lead to good things, and mastering how to be a great public speaker will open the door to new opportunities, guaranteed.

Aside from the tips we’ve mentioned here, what do you do to calm your public speaking nerves? Tell us about it in the Comments section or visit us on our social media channels. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and we’d love to hear your advice.