To Give a Great Speech, 9 Tips to Manage Your Nervousness



If you get nervous even at the thought of giving a speech, join the crowd. You’re not alone. Many people get nervous because they fear criticism, embarrassment, failure and/or rejection.

Every person is different but physical symptoms from anxiety and fear are common.

Nervous symptoms include: An unsettled stomach, fainting, perspiring, shortness of breath, stuttering, tense muscles and more.

However, fear can be a great motivator, if it’s managed. Use nervousness to your advantage and don’t assume anything or take anything for granted.

“In boxing, I had a lot of fear. Fear was good. But, for the first time, in the bout with Muhammad Ali, I didn’t have any fear. I thought, ‘This is easy. This is what I’ve been waiting for’. No fear at all. No nervousness. And I lost,” George Foreman later admitted.

In other words, nervousness can become your ally.

But as the boxer said, complacency isn’t. It always prevents you from giving a great performance.

The key is to become skilled at not acting afraid.

You can learn how to act confident — your audience wants to believe you have something important to share and will assume you’re calm and composed.

To manage your nervousness, here’s a checklist:

1. Research and prepare three ways

— Know your subject. Don’t wait to prepare your speech. Start immediately. If you procrastinate, you’re guaranteed to fail.

— Know your audience. Craft a speech to discuss what’s important to members of the audience.

On the day of your event, arrive early. Circulate among the attendees and talk with some of them. You’ll likely to make friends. It’ll put you at ease. Maintain eye contact with your new friends during your talk for increased confidence.

— Know your venue and environment. There are additional reasons to arrive early for a smooth performance. Check out the equipment. Learn the schedule of events sandwiched around your speech. Be sure to learn whether the attendees will be eating dinner as you speak.

2. Practice

Rehearse your speech while standing in front of a mirror to see how you present yourself. It will help your confidence.

If possible, videotape your rehearsal and critique yourself. Until you get confident in giving speeches, keep doing it again and again. On second thought, videotape your speeches even after you become proficient.

3. Put a governor on your adrenalin rush

First impressions set the tone on how the audience will perceive you. You’re still likely to be nervous, but don’t let it harm your performance. So take steps to make sure you start your speech successfully — thoroughly memorize your opening remarks so well that you don’t stumble or stammer.

Use nervousness to your advantage and don’t assume anything or take anything for granted.

4. Use visualization techniques

Success results from an inside job. If you take steps to feel successful — really feel confident — the audience will feel it, too. Therefore, enhance your potential for success by visualizing your success. Imagine how you’ll speak with confidence and how the audience will love your presentation.

5. Write and use affirmations

One sure way to reduce your fear and negativity is to write statements — affirmations — about how good you want to be. But write in present tense, such as “I’m a dynamic speaker,” or I’m very persuasive.”

Put the list in a handy location. Stand in front of a mirror and read the list aloud. Keep repeating the process.

6. Just before your speech, breathe deeply and get some exercise

Many good speakers will work out before a major presentation. At the venue, they’ll take a walk or do some light stretching.

Even after decades of public speaking, another of my favorites is to find a quiet place and meditate. Another is to breathe deeply. Fill your lungs with air, hold it for a few seconds, and do it several times.

7. Remember human nature

Because you’ve been invited to speak, the audience believes you’re a guru so act like it. The attendees are there because they want to see a successful speech. They won’t know if you make a mistake, so act like you’re successful.

8. Be an attraction — smile

Even if you’re nervous, put a smile on your face. Fake it, if you must, until you make it. A smile will calm your nerves and your attendees will respond favorably.

9. Act as if…

Your audience members will judge you how you look, not how you feel. By virtue of you being at the podium or on the stage, the attendees will automatically assume you’re confident and skilled.

Unless you’re totally inept as a speaker, even a subpar performance will be viewed as a success. So act as if you’re a competent speaker.

From the Coach’s Corner, related tips:

How to Get More Opportunities as a Guest Speaker — If you’re successful in generating speaking opportunities, you’ll create opportunities for your career. At the least, you’ll be in a position to raise your business profile.

9 Tips to Connect with People after You Make Your Speech — Typically, in making a speech at a public forum, businesspeople hope to get a return on their investment. After all, giving a great speech or serving on a panel before a targeted audience necessitates your valuable time and effort in preparation.

How to Obtain the Most Profit from Speaking Opportunities — It’s one thing to be invited to speak at your industry’s major event. But it’s another to create the right impression for your hosts, your audience and prospective customers or clients. There’s more to it than you might think.

Public Speaking Tips – for Speeches in Accepting Awards, Honors — So you’re about to be honored for your pro bono work, volunteerism, or for creating a foundation to fund scholarships for education. But you get stage fright or don’t know how to most-effectively frame your acceptance speech?

Strategies to Use When Your Business Presentation Goes Badly — You know your subject and how to get the people in the audience to connect emotionally with your pitch. You leverage the latest technology. Audience members might not recall everything you say. However, they’ll always recall how you make them feel.

“If I ever completely lost my nervousness I would be frightened half to death.”

Paul Lynde


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.