Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows you care about doing well. But too much nervousness can be detrimental.
Here’s information I’ve adapted from Toastmasters (I’ve been a member since the 1990s) on how you can control your nervousness, and make effective, memorable, presentations:
1. Know the room. Be familiar with the place in which.you will speak. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area, and practice using the microphone and any visual aids. This is so very important for making you feel comfortable, and eliminates the terror you’ll feel if they room is totally different from what you had expected and visualized.
More comfortable = less nervous.
2. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers. You’re just having several one-on-one conversations.
3. Know your material. If you’re not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice, Practice, Practice your speech and revise it if necessary. Knowing your material is half-the battle.
4. Relax. Ease tension by doing warm-up physical exercises. Don’t work up a sweat, just get loose.
5. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear, and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.
6. Combine visualization with Affirmations-short positive statements about your giving the presentation. Mine is “I’m likable, entertaining, and dynamic.” An Affirmation combined with Visualization makes a powerful tool for reinforcing in your mind your ability to give a great presentation.
7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative, and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail. Focus on this before and during your presentation.
8. Don’t apologize. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you may be calling the audience’s attention to something they hadn’t noticed.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and outwardly toward your message and your audience. Focus on the Grand Purpose of your speech, how you’re helping people, making the world a better place, etc. Your nervousness will dissipate.
10. Turn nervousness into positive energy. Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm. Purposeful movement (rather than standing in one place the whole time) can help channel this energy into something productive.
11. Gain experience. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need. But even if you can’t join Toastmasters, volunteer for every speaking opportunity you can.
There you have it-11 tips that will help you reduce nervousness! If you have questions or comments, let me know.