Top Ten Ways to Calm Your Nerves

If you’re like most people, public speaking is one of the last things they’d volunteer to do.  In fact, it’s one of the greatest fears people experience. If I’ve described you, or if you fall anywhere on the fear spectrum for public speaking, I’m here to tell you that you can overcome the anxiety and become an effective speaker.  Doing so will allow you to climb higher up your career mountain. The following are ten ways to calm your nerves for the next time you speak:

  1. An Extended Conversation. The presentation is nothing more than an extended conversation. Rely on the familiarity of your subject matter to put you at ease.  You’re the expert.  Most people in the audience are not. 
  2. Visualization is Key.  Visualize what you want the experience to be prior to stepping on stage.  Adjust accordingly if things don’t seem as you expected.  Some of the best speeches I’ve seen went off-script and were improvised. 
  3. Don’t Worry.  Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.  Unproductive worrying sucks the energy you need to stay focused on your energetic and compelling presentation. 
  4. Keep Moving.  Don’t stop for mistakes.  The odds are good that no one will notice your error.  Keep talking. 
  5. Forgive and Forget.  Don’t punish yourself for things you may have forgotten.  The audience will never know what you meant to include. 
  6. Watch Your Audience.  Watch the audience and how they react.  Remember that great speakers have a heightened sense of situational awareness. Make immediate adjustments in response to the room dynamic.
  7. Forget the Notes.  Forget the notes you wanted to keep in your hand.  They are a crutch and get in the way.  They break your rhythm by looking down and up too much.  Look at your audience…all the time. 
  8. Eliminate Barriers.  Eliminate any barriers.  Stay as close to your audience as possible, as it is difficult for you to establish rapport from a distance.  Rapport is what will help you feel more at ease with your audience. 
  9. Loose the Tension.  Bend your knees and/or stretch your arms to loosen the tension.  It is best to step on stage after the body is warmed up.  This isn’t that different from exercise!
  10. Be Prepared.  Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a presentation – never wing it!  Feeling unprepared is a huge source of anxiety.  It’s inexcusable, unnecessary, and can cause serious self-inflicted harm. 

It’s natural to feel a bit nervous.  However, if you incorporate these ten strategies, you’ll be able to channel what feels like negative energy into delivering a passionate and inspiring presentation.  To learn more tips on how to become an effective communicator, take my personalized assessment at