Council Post: 11 Tricks To Calm Your Nerves And Crush Your Public Speaking Gig (2023)

Public speaking is a common phobia for many professionals—even for some of the most experienced presenters. Simply hearing the word “presentation” may trigger panic in some individuals, often without a thorough understanding of the fear itself.

It certainly helps to know you’re not alone in your anxiety, but that doesn’t always ease the worry. To calm your nerves before a public speaking gig or presentation, try these tips recommended by members of Young Entrepreneur Council.

Nervous about a speech or presentation? Try these tips from members of Young Entrepreneur Council to get in the zone.

All photos courtesy of YEC members.

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1. Get There Early To Meet Your Audience

Instead of presenting to a room full of strangers, take some time before the presentation to do a little meet and greet with your audience. Chatting with your audience beforehand will help you feel more comfortable and help you appear more approachable and personable, too. You can introduce yourself, engage in small talk and ask questions of your audience. Doing this can also help you read the room and maybe even work some of what your audience says into your presentation. - John Turner, SeedProd LLC

2. Practice Power Poses

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy gave a now-famous TED talk on the scientific evidence behind power posing. She found that standing or sitting certain ways triggers immediate changes in our body’s chemistry. This can not only affect the way you interact with others, but can help develop confidence in a situation such as giving a speech. The main “high-power” pose is about opening up. You stretch and expand your body to take up as much space as possible. It mirrors how primates behave in the wild. After assuming this high-power pose for just two minutes, your dominance hormone can jump 20%, while your stress hormone can simultaneously fall. - Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed

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3. Focus On Nailing Your Introduction

The most difficult part of public speaking is actually getting started. Come up with an engaging introduction and memorize it until the words get embedded into your neural pathways. It helps you get into the flow of speaking and calms the nerves. Make the introductory portion as interesting as possible. It helps you get into the groove and gets the audience excited to listen to you as well. Once you have the perfect beginning, all you need to do is practice. Do it in front of the mirror, give a demo to your family and friends, or go to the actual venue for the rehearsal. Once you manage to catapult over the initial jitters, the rest will follow naturally. As the famous proverb goes, “Well begun is half done.” - Rahul Varshneya, Arkenea

4. Simply Know What You Are Talking About

There is no better way to exude confidence when speaking than to make sure you are 100% knowledgeable and confident about whatever it is you might be speaking about. For most of us, we eat, sleep and breathe entrepreneurship; so many of us would be excellent speakers on this topic (while also being able to relate with others in the room). Know your audience, what they are interested in and how to deliver it to them in a way that’s fun and exciting, and you will have no problems during your next speaking experience. - Zac Johnson, Blogger

5. Don’t Over-Rehearse

It is easy to tell when a presenter has over-prepared—they are performing a memorized monologue and seeing the word in their heads, rather than engaging with the room in an authentic way. For starters, pick a topic that you already know and about which you are comfortable speaking, versus a topic that requires an immense amount of research. This in and of itself will make you feel more at ease and lessen the need to over prepare or memorize the material. Next, craft a presentation with only a few words on the slides. This will allow you to speak genuinely instead of reading the words on the slides. By not over preparing, you won’t be in your own head about remembering your “script,” and the words will come more naturally. - Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia

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6. Practice ‘Uncomfortability’

For the last few years, I’ve been doing what I call “uncomfortability,” which is the practice of being uncomfortable on a regular basis. One of the best things that has helped completely eliminate any public speaking woes and worries for me is practicing, “on stage,” uncomfortable experiences that make public speaking seem like a piece a cake. Doing stand-up comedy, performing a spoken-word poem I wrote and being a nude model (all experiences I’ve done) are sure ways to position public speaking as a simple, easy feat. Recently, I thought the following before going on stage in front of 1,000 people: “Well, at least I have all my clothing on and no one expects that I will make them laugh.” - Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

7. Don’t Take Questions At The Podium

When I speak, I don’t budget time for questions at the end of my talk. I use every minute I’m scheduled for and then announce that I’ll take questions out in the hall (or after I’ve sat down, depending on the circumstances). When I know I have to answer questions, I feel like I’m just waiting for someone to ask a question I don’t know the answer to—to try to prove they know more about the topic I’m covering or to change the topic entirely just before everyone leaves. Taking questions in the hall also means I get to meet the folks asking questions, which provides much better networking opportunities. I can take some time to answer questions, even if those questions don’t interest my entire audience. I also have more room to say, “I don’t know” when I answer a question privately. - Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide

8. Remind Yourself Of Your Successes

The anxiety caused by public speaking comes from the fear that you’ll make a fool of yourself. Perhaps you will misspeak, or your presentation is obvious and uninteresting, or the audience will see that you really aren’t all that smart, after all. But your value doesn’t rest on your performance—you’ve achieved good and important things in your life, things the audience knows nothing about. You have started a business, overcome challenges and cultivated relationships. Nothing that happens after you stand up to speak can change that. When I’m nervous before speaking in public, I take a moment to think about my successes. I’ve faced challenges bigger than this. And, even if the presentation doesn’t go flawlessly, I’ll go on to overcome bigger challenges in the future. - Vik Patel, Future Hosting

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9. Try Ocean Breathing

This is an effective breathing technique that can clear your mind of any unwanted feelings or emotions. It’s great for relieving any anxiety before a major speaking event, but it can also be useful for calming down if you’re angry or on the verge of tears. You start by taking a deep breath in, expanding your stomach to hold as much oxygen as possible. Then, move the air up your body, visualizing it moving past your lungs and into your head. Once you’re holding all the oxygen in your head, forcefully exhale with your mouth closed. You should make a noise that sounds similar to crashing waves (which is why this technique is called “ocean breathing”). Do this a few more times and you should have no problem with your pitch or presentation. - Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

10. Visualize Your Success

If you’re nervous before a big presentation, your mind is probably buzzing with negative thoughts and images of making a mistake, stumbling, not being good enough, etc. It’s only natural to think that way, especially if public speaking isn’t your thing. To calm your nerves, you need to use the power of positivity. Visualize yourself doing a great job on your presentation. Imagine your audience members being entertained and giving you compliments. Tell yourself over and over again in your head that you’ll do a great job. Thinking positively will help you feel more confident and help you give a greater presentation. - Blair Williams, MemberPress

11. Embrace The Butterflies

I get nervous in front of people. I’ve tried all the usual things to calm my nervous, such as practicing my speeches, arriving early, making eye contact with the audience and deep breathing. The turning point for me was when I realized that rather than fighting my nervousness, I should embrace it. Just an awareness that nervousness is a natural physical response helps me reframe the situation to take off the edge. I understand that my body is trying to prep me to do something that is important to me. Since running away isn’t an option (usually), my nervousness helps me “fight” by sharpening my focus and heightening my awareness of my surroundings. Instead of pushing away my nervousness, I can mentally shape its energy into something positive. - Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

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How do I calm my nerves when public speaking? ›

These steps may help:
  1. Know your topic. ...
  2. Get organized. ...
  3. Practice, and then practice some more. ...
  4. Challenge specific worries. ...
  5. Visualize your success. ...
  6. Do some deep breathing. ...
  7. Focus on your material, not on your audience. ...
  8. Don't fear a moment of silence.

How do you stay calm when talking to a crowd? ›

  1. Select a topic of interest to you.
  2. Prepare carefully–know your material.
  3. Practice–rehearse your talk with a friend.
  4. Know your audience.
  5. Challenge negative thinking–make 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.

How can I feel confident before a presentation? ›

10 tips for building self-confidence before a presentation
  1. Listen to your favourite music. ...
  2. Wear smart clothes that you are comfortable in. ...
  3. Take inspiration from an important person in your life. ...
  4. Rehearse your presentation. ...
  5. Do something you love beforehand. ...
  6. Be true to yourself. ...
  7. Give compliments to others.
17 Feb 2021

How do I stop my heart from racing when presenting? ›

First, breathe in slowly and count to four. Next, hold your breath for four seconds. Finally, exhale through your mouth for four seconds. If you repeat the process three or four times, you'll notice your heart rate begin to slow and your entire body starting to relax.

How do you relax in front of an audience? ›

15 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation
  1. Practice. Naturally, you'll want to rehearse your presentation multiple times. ...
  2. Transform Nervous Energy Into Enthusiasm. ...
  3. Attend Other Speeches. ...
  4. Arrive Early. ...
  5. Adjust to Your Surroundings. ...
  6. Meet and Greet. ...
  7. Use Positive Visualization. ...
  8. Take Deep Breaths.
20 Oct 2014

How do you get audience attention when presenting? ›

Engage the audience — get them interested, give them a reason to listen. How?
  1. Describe a scene or a character.
  2. Tell a story.
  3. Share a personal experience.
  4. Relate to a recent event.
  5. Piggyback on a previous speaker's remark or theme.
  6. Point out something important about the audience or the current setting.

Why do I dislike public speaking? ›

A phobia may arise because of a combination of genetic tendencies and other environmental, biological, and psychological factors. People who fear public speaking may have a real fear of being embarrassed or rejected. Glossophobia may relate to one's prior experiences, Dr. Strawn says.

What do you fear about public speaking? ›

Let's look into the most common fears, when it comes to presenting or speaking in public: The fear of failing (self-doubt) The fear of forgetting the content. The fear of looking nervous or insecure.

How do you start liking small talk? ›

Consider the following tips for becoming a better, more respected conversationalist:
  1. Become more social. ...
  2. Be a good listener. ...
  3. Encourage the other person to talk. ...
  4. Ask questions. ...
  5. Use body language to express interest in the conversation. ...
  6. Know when to speak and when to listen. ...
  7. Be prepared.

What is the best way to approach crush? ›

Her advice is sure to help you strike up a conversation with someone swoon-worthy.
  1. Say Something Relevant To The Situation. Giphy. ...
  2. Avoid Corny Pickup Lines. Giphy. ...
  3. Start By Talking To The People Near Your Crush. ...
  4. Try Not To Hover. ...
  5. Practice With Your Friends. ...
  6. Trust Yourself And Remember That No One Will Judge You For Trying.
14 Aug 2018


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