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.
The nerves are never going away.
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.