The Undivided Life Blog


How to Calm Your Nerves Before Speaking

communication keynote speaker mindset Mar 28, 2023
Jeff Schiefelbein speaking on stage in an arena full of people

After giving over 50 talks each year for the last 24 years, I’ve been asked how to get rid of the fear and nervousness before a speech.

 It’s simple.

The nerves are never going away.

That’s right.

On some level, that anxious energy is always present, and I’m thankful for it.

If I give a talk and do not feel nervous for some reason, I know that I haven’t prepared properly or I am not present in the process.

Here’s the good news.

You can embrace those feelings and use them to your advantage.

I seize that energy and put it to use by doing the following:

  • Empathize – I put myself in the audience’s shoes and ask what they need to hear.
  • Write it down – Just like studying for a test, I type the critical points of my message in long form first. Then I set those notes aside and start over, attempting to rewrite the entire talk by hand and recognizing that I learn better when I put pen to paper as I try to recall the messages. Then I compare each version and select the best material.
  • Practice out loud – I give the entire talk and note the times that feel clunky or the essential messages that deserve more emphasis.
  • Tweak – I drill down on key areas and practice delivering them a dozen more times to find the right balance.
  • Prayer – I pray for the humility to step out of the way as I deliver the message.

Embrace the fear – Since I know the nervousness is never going away, I make myself more comfortable with those butterflies in my stomach and give thanks for the energy they bring before and during each talk.

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