I’m dealing with a little fear today and decided to address it here in my blog as it pertains to public speaking. Of course, my fear is related to the doctor (ugh!), not the microphone, but still … I’m very empathetic today!

I get asked quite often about dealing with nerves. The mere prospect of being nervous is what causes the fear and loathing – and ultimately the avoidance – around presenting or speaking in front of a group. And the avoidance then extends to preparation, ironically one of the very things that could help tame the nerves. The procrastination around preparation is the dread, the avoidance, the oh-no-I-don’t-want-to-do-this-tell-me-I-don’t-really-have-to-do-this …. sound familiar?

Couple of thoughts:

Nerves happen. They just do. Doesn’t mean you should avoid a speaking opportunity, it means you should prepare. Let’s face it, we all feel so much better about our prospects for success when we’re prepared.

Nerves are actually your adrenaline revving up your body’s energy to perform well. See? Even your body is on your side and helping to get you ready!

Nerves just might be your constant companion. You might be someone who speaks and presents often and still gets them. Know that and plan around your nerves … especially, if like most people, your nervousness peaks at the beginning of a talk.

Know that your audience can’t tell that your right leg is shaking. They are expecting you to be just fine, and so that’s what they see. Don’t call it out that you’re nervous … breathe, stay present with your audience and your material, and keep on going.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. And then be prepared to adapt and adjust too! In the event that you are flailing and the presentation is failing, you can always jump into the life raft of Q&A … and that way you share the floor with your audience.

More on this another time … it’s one of the biggies, I know!

Beth Levine