6 Tips to Calm Your Nerves Before Speaking

Making a public presentation in your community can be nerve racking. Learn the Public Speaker's 6 tips for calming your nerves before speaking in front of an audience. 

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #185

6 Tips to Calm Your Nerves Before Speaking

Linda needs to speak to the Board of Trustees - she feels strongly about about the road they want to build through her neighborhood and wants to voice her opinion, but something is stopping her.  She’s got speaker’s anxiety!

Unfortunately, it’s very common. But when you care about an issue, you can’t let nervousness or anxiety stop you from getting involved.

If you’re on the PTA, you may be asked to talk about an upcoming fundraiser. At church, you may be asked to be part of the service or to teach a class. Although you may not consider yourself a public speaker, we all have times when we need to speak up and be heard in our communities. >


Today, I’ll cover 6 tips to calm your nerves before speaking in front of a group:  

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Exercise to stay calm. 
  3. Try pictures, visualization, and laughing just before you speak. 
  4. Make a change to calm down during the speech.
  5. Embrace the energy.
  6. Be prepared.

Tip #1: Stay Hydrated

Years ago, I went to small claims court with a friend. As soon as he started talking, his tongue went dry and his lips turned white. It was so uncomfortable to watch him struggle through his few sentences to the judge! Later on I learned that dry mouth, also known as cotton mouth, is a very real sign of anxiety and the person experiencing it is suffering. The secret? Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before you speak. Keep your water bottle with you at all times. I find the more nervous I am, the more water I need. 

Tip #2: Exercise to Stay Calm

If you know when you’ll be speaking publicly, plan a good workout earlier in the day. Even a quick stroll can really help.  According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, exercise can alleviate anxiety by releasing endorphins that make you feel better. Exercise also increases the body temperature, which can have a calming effect. It distracts you from your worries and helps you feel more confident. Even the social interaction of smiling at someone as you walk by or greeting someone in the gym can help calm anxiety.

Tip #3: Try Pictures, Visualization, Laughing Just Before You Speak

Sometimes we don’t realize we’re nervous until just before it’s our turn to speak. You may feel calm and prepared until just before your name is called. If you’re out of view, you can try methods such as looking at a baby photo, smiling big, telling yourself a joke or taking big deep breaths. If you’re in plain sight, use your brain to calm yourself. Try visualization or discreet, deep breathing. Keep a smile on your face and try to look relaxed.  

If you’re going to use these methods, plan ahead. Here's how...


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.