Why do people get so nervous before a speaking opportunity and what are the best/quickest techniques to address it so it doesn’t negatively affect performance?

People get nervous because they know they are going to be critiqued and judged. Every person in the audience will have a slightly different opinion. Some will be bored…enthralled…angered…disappointed…challenged…thrilled. That’s a lot of pressure, and it makes people nervous.

We all know how we hate to hear a dull speaker, or sit through a presentation we’re forced to sit through. That thought hits speakers subconsciously. We know exactly what we don’t want to hear and there’s a fear that we might be seen, or heard, as the speaker we want to avoid being like.

Another reason for nerves comes from a lack of preparation or skill. If someone asked me to get on the field and play in the NFL I’d be terrified because I could literally get killed. It’s totally out of my element. A majority of speakers feel out of their element.

The best technique I know of for nervousness is a positive mental attitude and self image. You are a valuable person whether you speak well in front of a group or not. You’re valuable even if they don’t like your talk. Sometimes I’m hired to say some tough things to a crowd. Do they like me or my material? Nope. But it doesn’t matter. Other times I get to use a lot of humor and have a blast with the audience. Does that mean I’m more valuable as a human being? Nope.

Other techniques to get rid of nerves include…

Keep yourself oxygenated. Nervousness creates shallow breathing, which can make you more nervous. The “take five-ten deep breathes” you’ve probably heard about really is helpful.

Remind yourself of the value the listeners will receive. How will they be better off from having heard your message?

Relive a positive memory. Think back to a fun time in your life and get your mind totally off your talk.

Opposite of that last point. Center yourself on your message. Think about your opening and rehearse your first words. Then step to the platform and immediately let them roll.

Ultimately, getting over nerves is like all other areas of life, you have to discover what works for you. I’d suggest talking to some friends who also speak and make a master list of what works for each one of you.

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Author's Bio: 

Paul Evans is the author of Instant Speaking Success - Taking You from Dull to Dynamic. http://platinumpresenter.com