How to manage nerves when speaking 

Getting out of your own way, so you can shine!

 

Woman's face with red lips ready to shine for public speaking

“Fear is excitement without the breath.” Here’s what this intriguing statement means: the very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it.” ~ Gay Hendricks

Nerves when speaking can show up as a shaky voice, shortness of breath, shaking legs, sweaty palms, the sudden urge to run to the bathroom, and so much more.

When we are put in an unfamiliar situation where we are ‘on display’ so to speak, we are putting ourselves in a vulnerable position. Fear of ‘exposure’ activates certain physiological responses that can be disconcerting to the person on stage.

And let’s be frank here, sometimes nerves NEVER go away. This is also why I never advocate to ‘cure’ or eliminate nerves. 

We CAN learn to manage our nerves through a combination of learning and using mental and physical tools, along with building experience.

 

Preparation

Managing nerves begins long before the event itself. It starts with your preparation. If you are prepared for your time on stage, then your fears and nerves can be more easily managed.

If you are unprepared, then you are feeding the fear and the nerves in advance of the event itself.

Preparation involves both writing and preparing your materials, and PRACTICING speaking the speech. By practicing the speech you are creating the physical memories for you to get on stage and speak freely and easily.

Practicing the speech also supports the pacing, breathing, and pronunciation of your speech or presentation.

If this sounds intimidating and also feels as if you don’t want to do it, it’s mostly likely because you KNOW you need it…. (just sayin’).

 

Visualization

Part of your preparation also involves visualizing the BEST possible outcome. Whether you are speaking for 1 minute or 60 minutes, visualizing and FEELING how it will be to hear the applause, interaction, laughter, etc. will be a key to getting up there and feeling comfortable.

By visualizing the best possible outcome, you are creating a positive thought pattern that will also guide you once you are on stage.

 

Focus

If you focus on the nerves, guess what? The nerves will continue to grow and get out of hand. If you focus on your content, guess what? Your content will shine, your passion will show, and you’ll have a whole new experience of speaking, allowing the nerves to fall away.

 

Connection

The audience is not your enemy. They are there to hear you and they WANT to see you succeed. Nothing else matters at this time except your connection sharing your content and passions with them. That’s it.

 

Experience

Yep – that’s right – good ol’ experience will do more for teaching you how to manage your nerves than anything else. Getting up regularly, in front of people, will show you how your nervous responses appear, and then you can start to recognize the signs before they REALLY kick in. You can re-direct that energy into excitement, into joy, and use it to your benefit.

 

Nerves and fear about public speaking are about getting in touch with your physiological responses to new and unfamiliar situations. Nerves can’t be “cured”, but they can be re-directed. If you have questions about your nerves and public speaking, or if you’d like to tap into your best energy while speaking with your community, then I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at hello@jenlang.com or Book a Free Discovery Call to see how your nerves can serve your speaking and communication. 

 

Jen Lang, Your Voice and Communications Coach

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