Getting nervous before going out in front of a crowd to speak is incredibly common and can often hinder us from moving forward in our careers or other aspects of our lives. Thoughts that you’ll make a fool of yourself or will forget what you’re supposed to say often circle chaotically before you go up on the stage and this can be a crippling experience to go through.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimise the effect that this fear has on you and ensure that you are prepared when you’re making yourself heard in front of people. Here are 5 ways to calm your nerves before speaking in front of a group:
1. Begin With Your Mindset
Simply changing your mindset about the stress and anxiety you feel can have a huge impact on your performance. Kicking yourself for having butterflies and being annoyed at yourself immediately puts yourself in a negative frame of mind and this is likely to carry on when you begin speaking.
Instead of this, accept that the anxiety you feel is perfectly normal and it’s only there because you want to do well. After all, what’s the worse that could happen? You’ll stumble on one or two words? Fully acknowledge that you’re not perfect and even if you do stumble or need a moment to think about your next point, it won’t be the end of the world.
“There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” – Mark Twain
2. Familiarise Yourself With The Space
Spending some time up on stage or in the front of the room where you’ll be speaking will help you to familiarise yourself with the area and begin to visualise your performance. A lot of your anxiety comes from the unknown and eliminating as many factors as possible will aid you in your speech.
You can practise talking from the same place as you will be during your speech and this familiarisation will help settle you once you get up there. Every little helps.
3. Stay Hydrated
The importance of this point is not to be underestimated. When you begin to feel anxious before a speech, one of the first things that can happen is the development of a dry mouth and lips. This will not only make you feel more uneasy and uncomfortable but also make it harder for you to actually speak confidently and enunciate properly.
Ensure that you have a handy bottle of water before and during your talk. Personally, I find that the more anxious I am the thirstier I get. So make sure you have plenty of water with you and avoid having your lips dry and stuck together when it matters!
4. Warm Up!
Just like you’d warm up before exercising, it can be equally important and helpful to warm up your voice and loosen up your body before heading up on stage. Start humming and practise resonating your voice confidently. Perhaps working your way through tongue-twisters to improve your enunciation.
Just as importantly, get your body up and moving before your speech if you can. Get your blood flowing with your body upright rather than sitting stagnantly in a chair where tension can just slowly build and build in your body.
5. Practice, Practice and Practise Some More!
The more prepared you are in terms of what you’re going to say and every other little detail about your speech, the more confident you will feel going into it. By cancelling out the possibility that you’ll forget parts of it, or that you won’t know how to transition between parts of your speech you will immediately reduce the amount of anxiety you feel before your speech.
As a bottom line, almost everyone feels a sense of nervousness and anxiety before public speaking but the more we do to eliminate unknowns and practise our talk, the more we can reduce this anxiety.