Nervous about giving a presentation or speech?


Earlier this week, I was asked to give a motivational presentation / speech to a large corporate organisation, explaining the benefits of Life Coaching and what it can offer to people.  It sounds easy when Life Coaching is my passion and speaking to large groups of people is pretty much what I have done for the last 30 years, doesn’t it?   To be honest it was a bit of a shock to the system – essentially I am selling myself, which is not something I am particularly good at.  As I was jumping on the train, my wife said ‘just be yourself’.  This sounds like the simplest thing to do, but it really isn’t!

Even the most experienced public speakers get nervous and anxious, so I thought I would share some tips on how to overcome those nerves.

1.   Practice – if you know your subject, then you are 90% of the way there.  Record yourself practicing the speech, then go to a quiet space or for a walk and listen to the presentation.  It will help calm the nerves.  Don’t focus on learning the presentation word for word, you need to be natural.  If you can practice where you will speak, even better – it will eliminate the unknown.

2.   Fear – turn the fear into positive energy and enthusiasm.  When you think about your presentation / speech, associate words such as can and will, instead of can’t and won’t.  Replace negative words by emphasising the positive ones.

3.   Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water before your presentation / speech and make sure you have a bottle of water handy.  It’s very common to get a dry throat when anxious or nervous so this will alleviate the dry throat feeling.  Don’t forget to visit the toilet, 15 mins before your speech, even if you don’t think you need to.

4.   Arrive early – Give yourself plenty of time to get to know your surroundings.  Where you will be briefing, how big the room is, have a test run of the audio / visual equipment, so you feel confident from the start of your speech.

5.   Chat to people – engage with your audience prior to the presentation / speech.  It will make you seem personable and likeable and may also give you an idea of what questions people may have for you.

6.   Deep breaths / visualise an image – taking deep breaths helps you to relax.  Focussing on an image, whether that be a shape, an object or even somebody you trust, will help concentrate the mind and eliminate negative energy.

7.   Fidgeting – its easy to fidget with coins or keys in pockets, but it can distract the audience.  If you need to fidget, try wiggling your toes in your shoes as nobody can see this!  If you tend to use your hands a bit too much (like me!), place one of your hands behind your back. 

One final tip, somebody once told me to visualise your audience naked or in their underwear and the nerves would disappear.  I can’t say this has ever worked for me, but you never know……..


Oax Life Coaching


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