Three Tips for the Nervous Public Speaker

Do you remember your first days without the training wheels on your bike? Were you nervous? Were you even a little bit afraid? Did that fear make you hyper-focused? Was there someone holding on to your bike’s seat, guiding you and cheering you on?

When it comes to public speaking, do you find yourself nervous and maybe even afraid? Like that first experience on your bike, let me hold on the seat and help you learn.

1. Let Your Nerves Work for You

I am probably right when I say those few moments of being on a bicycle without training wheels were some of the most focused moments in your life. All your senses were ready to learn. Your nerves, in that case, were working for you.

Nerves are not the enemy. I have been presenting public speaking courses for over two decades and I have never found a good speaker who was not nervous about their work. Notice that I wrote “a good speaker.” There are plenty of cocky and arrogant public speakers who are “never nervous” but they present without energy or enthusiasm.

What good are nerves and nervousness for the public speaker? Your nerves keep your energy level high and your focus sharp. Speaking with high energy while focused on your presentation benefits your audience. They are getting a speaker who is truly present to the subject they are presenting instead of someone who is spewing out just another average speech. Before going onstage, accept your nerves as part of being human, take several slow deep breaths, smile big and step onto the stage with energy and enthusiasm.

2. Remember: Your Audience Wants You to Succeed.

When you were riding without the training wheels, were your family or friends standing on the sidewalk hoping you would fall off and hurt yourself? Of course they were not hoping that you would fail.

In public speaking, your audience wants to you to be at your best. They do not want you to be boring as that means they will be bored. Your audience wants to see you having fun or deeply in touch with your subject. In the old days, people were told to imagine the audience in their underwear. That was just horrible advice. Your audience is on your side and you are in partnership with them. Remember, you are the expert and you are giving them a valuable presentation. They want to walk out of the building saying, “Wow. I can really use what that speaker was talking about.”

3. Good Coaching and Training is Invaluable.

When you were a small child, you did not just hop on to your bicycle and hurry down the street. No, you started with training wheels. Then, someone took off those training wheels and ran behind you, holding on to the seat, while you wobbled down the road. Several falls later, more running and wobbling, and then, whoosh you took off down the road.

Coaching and training for public speaking are invaluable ways to get to the whoosh moments of public speaking. We who coach and train public speaking skills are always getting letters of thanks from our clients who successfully used simple techniques taught in public speaking workshops or private coaching. Seek out the experts who can take you to the next level. You will discover that it is an incredible experience to have a speaking coach who can point out areas where you need to improve and support you in your natural skills as a presenter.

Learn to focus your nervous energy to achieve excellence as a speaker.

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Sean Buvala is the executive director of Storyteller.net. He’s the author of “How to Write an About Me” available at writeanaboutme.com. To learn more about public speaking, please visit the the MoreThanSpeaking website today.