Many people feel some form of nerves before speaking. Those nerves can strike before giving a presentation in front of a large group. They can strike when having a difficult conversation with one person. Sometimes nerves feel like excitement. Sometimes they feel like hell. When that’s the case, it’s because we’re wound too tight.
Even the pros feel the nerves
I’ve been speaking to groups for many years. I count on the butterflies I feel ahead of time to keep me on my game. If I’m not a little bit nervous (even if it feels like excitement), I’m not going to be as effective as a speaker.
I use my nerves to make me move. I release that energy through moving around in the space where I’m presenting. I use my hands to gesture and help me talk. I put more air behind my voice to make it strong and hide any tremor that might show up otherwise.
Before I ever get to the speaking, I prepare in ways which help me feel more confident. I create the kind of presentation that flows for me. I use lots of examples and stories to illustrate my points. I prepare open-ended questions to engage my audience, whether it’s one person or 100.
The simplest tricks are the best
The most important way I manage my nerves is the simplest. For that reason, I think many people ignore or skip it. It seems TOO simple.
I take some deep breaths to calm myself. I close my eyes for a moment. I focus on feeling grounded. I give myself a little pep talk.
Eliminating nerves when speaking shouldn’t be the goal.
Figuring out better ways to use that nervous energy should be the goal.
Recognize when you’re wound too tight to be effective in speaking. Look for ways to slow down and ground yourself before you begin. Then use those nerves to make you more interesting and engaging. Whether you’re speaking with one person or to a room full of people, harness that energy and put it to work in your favor.