When I first began my speaking career, I was sure that the people sitting in the back of the room could hear my heart pounding.
Nervousness can manifest itself in several ways:
Sound familiar? Most speakers – no matter how experienced or professional – experience some nervousness before making a presentation, particularly when speaking on a new topic or when anticipating a negative or hostile reaction from the listener. It’s natural.
The good news is that having some nervousness means you care about giving a good presentation. It can also boost your energy level. The trick is learning how to cope with your nerves and use them to your advantage.
You can learn to keep your nerves under control by practicing the following 10 tips:
1) Breathe. Take several deep breaths and exhale slowly.
2) Practice relaxing your face muscles. Make funny faces. Yawn.
3) Do isometric exercises. Clench your fingers and toes and release.
4) Release nervous energy by moving your body. Walk. Use broad gestures.
5) Take a moment to get grounded and think about what you want to say before you begin to speak.
6) Try to figure out the source of your nervousness. Once you can identify the cause of your fear, you can begin to take action steps to overcome it. Put your fears in perspective.
7) Be prepared. Planning, preparation and practice promote confidence.
8) Set reasonable goals and expectations. Oprah didn’t start out being Oprah. Nor did Barack Obama start out as President. Their polished deliveries are the result of a passionate belief in their message and honing their speaking skills over time.
9) Wear comfortable, suitable clothing. When you feel good about what you’re wearing, that confidence comes across to your audience and becomes one less thing for you to think about.
10) Use humor to break the ice. This doesn’t mean starting off your presentation with a joke. It does mean opening up to the energy of your audience and allowing yourself to connect authentically.
Practice using these top 10 tips to overcome your stage fright and you’ll be on your way to achieving speaking success!