10 ways to manage public speaking nerves
Feeling a bit anxious at the thought of speaking in front of a group? Have public speaking nerves gotten in the way of a star performance at business meetings?
Even the most experienced speaker can feel nervous before a presentation, especially if it means the difference between winning a sale or losing it to the competition. These ten simple strategies will help calm your public speaking nerves next time you need to deliver a presentation.
- Positioning: Sometimes the secret to feeling confident is as simple as how you position the presentation. Many people panic at the sheer thought of ‘public speaking’, while others don’t like to deliver a ‘presentation’. What about if I asked you to share some of your knowledge with a group of people? When asked that way, most people immediately say, “Yes, of course I can share some knowledge, no problem at all”. So in reality, your nerves may just be about the language you use when you talk to yourself.
- ‘It’s not about me, it’s about them:’ When delivering your ‘knowledge-sharing session’, as we’ll now refer to it, remember that it is not about you. It is about your audience. They’ve turned up because they want to understand more about what you can tell them.
- Faking it: Never fake it until you make it. If you’re feeling nervous, then worrying about being found out as a fraud can add to that nervous energy. Use the confidence you have in another area to help you get through your knowledge-sharing session.
- Don’t imagine me naked: Despite what you may have heard, I recommend you don’t imagine the audience in their underwear, PJ’s or naked – it could make you feel more nervous, or just plain gross you out.
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- Remember the six Ps: Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent Poor Performance. Prepare as best as you can and rehearse as much as possible.
- Questions: Anticipate the types of questions you’re likely to be asked and prepare your answers so they’re ready to go. You may still be asked questions that you don’t know the answer to or need to think about on the spot, but it will happen less frequently and every question you’re asked is one you’re prepared for next time.
- Admit it: If you don’t know the answer to something, just say so. Tell the audience you’ll find out and get back to them with a follow up email or phone call, depending on what is most feasible.
- Storyboarding: To minimise the need for notes, consider using a storyboard to help you remember what you want to say. Holding paper can sometimes make you seem more nervous, especially if you’re shaking a little from the adrenaline rush.
- Success is imminent! Remember that overall, people actually want to support you – they’re not sitting there hoping you’ll make a mistake. In most audiences, people will want you to succeed.
- What’s the worst that can happen? Even the best of us stuff up a presentation now and then. But so what? You just get better the next time. And the great thing is, you’ll have a great story to tell the next group you present to!
The next time you have to deliver an important knowledge-sharing session try these quick tips and see if they help. You’ll also find a range of ideas to help you with your presentation skills here.
"Despite what you may have heard, I recommend you don’t imagine the audience in their underwear, PJ’s or naked – it could make you feel more nervous, or just plain gross you out."
Do you have any other tips to share with us for overcoming public speaking nerves? Please speak up below.