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

Create your visualization scenario before you need it. Picture yourself walking up to the podium, smiling, calmly giving your speech, and then visualize the result you want afterward, such as people coming up to volunteer or congratulate you on your passionate speech. Perhaps bring a list of jokes and a few pictures that make you smile with you.

Tip #4: Make a Change to Calm Down During the Speech

Have you ever had a case of nervousness hit you right in the middle of a speech or performance? Early on in my career I was in the middle of a presentation, and my leg started to shake. I’m not sure what it looked like to the audience, but to me it felt violent and uncontrollable. I had no idea what to do, so I suffered through it.

See also: What Is Panic Disorder?


This would have been a good time to take a couple of quick deep breaths, to find a place to pause, and to make sure I was smiling. It’s better to take a quick second to regroup than to let the symptoms build.  Breathe deep, change your position, focus on looking audience members in the eye, and if it seems appropriate make a small joke that lets you and the audience laugh and takes the focus off of you.

Tip #5: Embrace the Energy

Nervous energy isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, research has shown that good stress helps us focus and helps us think more clearly. Getting the blood pumping sharpens your senses sand makes you more aware of what’s going on around you. Use that extra energy to engage your audience, and to show your passion. Turn that negative energy into positive energy and your audience will sit up and pay attention. They’ll be more eager to interact with you. If you feel like you’ve got too much energy, some people like to purposefully on the stage.  Just be careful not to pace back and forth like a caged tiger!

Tip #6: Be Prepared

So far, everything’s been about physically calming yourself down. But if you don’t prepare for your speech, you’ll end up stressed and anxious beforehand. Make sure you know what you’re going to say. Then, practice. Practice your first words more than any other part so that you can relax and focus on the audience instead of yourself. 

If you can, find a coach to practice with (hint, hint). Otherwise a friend or family member can be your audience. Even practicing by video recording yourself and playing it back makes a difference. Don’t let your public presentation be the first time you’ve ever given your speech out loud. By the time you give it, you should be comfortable with the delivery.

Here’s the bottom line, everyone feels some anxiety before a speech.  Use these techniques to calm your nerves and don’t let speaker’s anxiety stop you from speaking up

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker.  Passionate about communication; your success is my business. If you want to learn how to be more persuasive, more diplomatic, more charismatic, more successful in both your community and at work, check out my book, Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation.  It’s available wherever books, ebooks, and audiobooks are sold.


Join my newsletter
Join my professional network LinkedIn
Join my social networks: Twitter or Facebook 
Send questions to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com

Drinking Water, Woman Smiling and Man Giving a Presentation images from Shutterstock


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.