It’s five minutes before your talk begins. You’ve prepared a great speech, worked out all the issues and practiced it several times. But for some bizarre reason, you still feel a bit nervous. Is something wrong?
These feelings are perfectly normal – many seasoned speakers still feel a bit nervous before a big speech. It’s your mind’s way of reminding you that you’ve got something important coming up. Nervous energy is a good thing; it helps keep us on our toes.
A question I’m often asked is how to handle that nervous energy before a speech. There are a lot of suggestions out there as to ways to calm you nerves ranging from facial and body exercises to energy drinks to even aromatherapy. You may have to experiment to find what works best for you but here are my three favorite:
Listen to music that psyches you up:
Music can often change our emotional state in an instant so try to find something that puts you in a resourceful, positive or confident state. Music can also relax you and ease your nerves. Try listening to some of your favorite songs and compositions to see the affect they have on you and note how they make you feel. If a song makes you want to jump out of your seat and accomplish something, then it’s a good candidate for something to use to prepare yourself to speak.
If you have an MP3 player such as an iPod, you can pre-load it with music that puts you in the state you want to be in. It’s ideal to find multiple songs for each mood or emotion you’re trying to achieve — this will prevent you from getting tired of the same song over and over.
Visualize your success:
Successful athletes use this technique all the time. Whether it’s kicking a field goal to win the Super Bowl, knocking a ball out of the park to win the World Series or making that shot from half-court to win the championship — the athlete has seen it in his or her mind a million times before doing it in real life.
Imagine yourself walking up to the podium or on to the stage. See yourself moving in a confident manner and inspiring your audience. Watch them react to you as you’d expect them to — they laugh at your jokes and listen intently to your main points. Then envision the standing ovation that you’ll receive as you walk off the stage.
Focusing your energy on a positive result will increase your chances of success.
Remember the benefits:
You’ve been asked to speak for a reason. Maybe it’s to sell a product, collect a paycheck, get people excited about your cause, change the world or to inspire others. Visualize the results of your efforts — closing the sale, helping your cause or the energy you’ll create in the room.
Understanding the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone helps you see the value in your efforts.
So these are my favorite tips for calming one’s nerves before a speech. Some may work better than others for you so experiment to see what works best for you.