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Nervous about Presenting?


There's no magic pixie dust to overcome nervesEarly in my work coaching executives, one VP said to me, “I hate public speaking.  What I’m hoping is that you can help me get over my fear of public speaking.”

I was honest with her.  “There are things we can do together to make you feel more comfortable and confident.  But unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand.  I can’t promise that you’ll ‘get over’ being nervous.”

No Magic Pixie Dust

A 2001 Gallup poll reported that 40% of Americans have a fear of public speaking.  If you include yourself in that 40%, I wish I could wave some pixie dust over you to help you overcome your fears.  Unfortunately, I have no such pixie dust.

I can tell you that with repetition in speaking in front of people, you can get better and be more comfortable.  The nerves may never fully go away.  But you’ll increase your confidence in your ability and know that you can speak despite your trepidation.  And you never know…you may be like a few people I know who were once fearful about public speaking but forced themselves to do it and who now truly love speaking in front of groups!

Find a Toastmasters Club Near You

One excellent way to get practice speaking in front of a group is to join a Toastmasters club.  Toastmasters is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a mutually supportive and safe environment where people can develop their public speaking skills.  To find a club near you, go to http://Toastmasters.org, click on the red button to the top left that says, “Find.”  Put in the zip code where you work or live, and search for a club.  Look for a “Club Status” that says, “Open to all.”  Visit two or three clubs in your area and find the one that’s a good fit for you and your schedule.  It will be worth the investment of time – and it’s extremely reasonably priced for the value you get.

Below Are Additional Tips that Have Helped Clients Who Are Nervous about Presenting

Get the Focus Off of the Audience Judging You and Onto Providing Value

You have valuable information that will benefit your audience.  Think about what they want and need to know about what you have to say.  It would be selfish for you not to speak to them!

Remember, the Audience Wants You to Succeed

No audience member walks into a presentation thinking, “Gee, I hope this stinks!”  They’re pulling for you.  They want you to be successful!  Use that positive energy to encourage you!

Don’t Memorize Your Presentation

Don’t try to memorize your presentation word for word.  There will be parts you may want to commit to memory – such as the opening words or key phrases.  But don’t try to memorize the whole thing.  Instead, identify your main points and internalize what you have to say.   Practice delivering the speech by communicating your main points and don’t get hung up on saying it the exactly same way every time.  The audience doesn’t have your script and they don’t know what you planned to say.  Focus on communicating your ideas, not memorizing a script.

Assume the Wonder Woman / Superman Pose (Privately) Before You Speak

If you’re not familiar with the pose, it’s standing with your hands on your hips with your legs spread a little more than shoulder length apart.  Find a quiet place, back stage, in a restroom stall, and hold that pose for a couple minutes.  Why?  Because holding this confident pose will actually increase your testosterone and lower the stress hormones in your system.

For the complete story, take a look at the Amy Cuddy presentation at a TED event in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Evidence Points to the Fact You Can Do This!

There are no cases in recorded history of someone dying because of a presentation.  You can do this!  Remember, you have information that will help your audience.  They want to hear what you have to say.  Serve your audience, prepare and you’ll do just fine.

Still Not Convinced?  Contact Kelly for Coaching!

Call 770-597-1108 or email Kelly at Kelly . Vandever @ SpeakingPractically . com to schedule a phone call.  See if presentation coaching is right for you.


  1. […] is mentioned in the article and as I discussed in a recent post, for most people preparation and rehearsal can go a long way to reduce the anxiety.  But if you […]