You’ve spent weeks putting together your pitch deck and presentation. You’re feeling pretty good about the content and you’re finally ready to hit the stage and show’em what you’ve got! Yet, in the minutes leading up to showtime the butterflies start to kick-in, as those nerves before speaking in public start to rise. Before you know it the inner voice of self-doubt has completely taken over.
Even now, as someone who’s made a career of speaking in front of crowds, I sill get those tickles and last minute nerves before speaking. Guess what? Even the best of speakers feel this wave of anxiety right before taking the mic. They rarely disappear.
However – there’s good news. With practice, growth and experience you’ll learn how to manage how you feel and decrease the impact it’ll have on your performance. You’ll be able to psychologically transform this anxiety and these nerves before speaking into positive energy and excitement.
Every strong public speaker has their own way of tackling last-minute nerves before speaking to a crowd. I thought I’d share with you six things I still do just before I open a conference, workshop or speak in public. Hopefully they’ll help you to increase your chances of a smooth performance. Hopefully it’ll give you a welcomed boost of charisma minutes before showtime.
1. Feel pumped to share your idea
The first thing I do when the tickles are on the rampage is get myself into the right mindset. Back to a mental place in my mind which reminds why I’m doing this in the first place. Being a good public speaker is as much about controlling your inner voice and emotions as it is about public speaking skills and techniques. What I start to do is tell myself how excited I am to share my idea with the audience. I’m ready to give something worthwhile to my listeners. I have something great to share. Something they’ll find useful or valuable. I truly believe in my content and can’t wait to speak. I find this helps me control my inner thoughts and strengthens my will to do well on stage. Try it. It works for me.
2. Talk to Yourself
Yes, I hold my hands up high – I talk to myself. Although this sounds kind-a-weird, you’d be surprised at the positive effect it actually has. Right before you’re in the spotlight. I tend to go through the main points and phrases of my opening five minutes over in my head. Although, I know the script by heart, it still gives me that extra last minute boost. A boost to remind me I’ll be fine. Finding a positive set of motivational phrases also can be a great benefit as self-talk can have a tremendously positive effect.
3. Visualize to reduce nerves before speaking
Just before getting to the venue I often run through a play-back video in my mind. It shows me doing well on stage, nailing a smooth performance and getting a good final reaction from my audience. Try to pin-point a time in the past where you did well on stage and throw those images into the mix. Other speakers have told me they focus on a person that makes them feel warm inside – their wife or kids. Moments before speaking, by visualizing warm feel-good images in your mind, the chances are these will be brought on stage with you. Something that’ll keep you in a good state-of-mind and in turn, something your audience will sense and absorb.
4. I like to move it, move it – and a bottle of water
Getting my body moving before I go on stage really warms me up and gets me physically ready – but also mentally. The endorphin starts to kick-in and the focus sways away from negative thoughts. Drinking water is also something I do at least an hour before to completely avoid any hint of dehydration. When this creeps in, your body becomes tired. That’s when dryness starts to work its way to your lips, throat and mouth. This in turn has an impact on your voice. I always stay refreshed with a bottle of water at hand.
5. Hit the silly button
Now here’s something that I’ve found really effective to help me strip away those fears – becoming a little weird. Leading up to showtime, I actually start to pull a few funny-looking faces. Ocassionally I start to move a little like a slapstick comedian! Acting in a ridiculous way is always a clear reminder that I’m fully in control of who I am and how embarrassed or scared I feel. At that moment in a very unfamiliar environment, where we are designed to feel awkward, I actually feel comfortable with myself. Try it. You might just be surprised at the impact it’ll have.
6. Enjoy the moment
The final nugget of advice is simple. Enjoy it! Whatever state of panic you find yourself in before you start to speak, just remember what this actually is. It’s your five-minutes-of-fame! In a world where we’re all trying to get attention, desperate for people to hear our message – you’re just about to get it. I try to see it as a live-theatre moment ready to make connections with people through my messages. Say to yourself you’re going to really enjoy it and have fun. Do this and your audience will feel the same way too.
Voila! There you have it. I hope these will help you feel more in control just before you speak. If you’ve got your own tips for those last-minute butterflies and nerves, I’d love to hear them. Just remember – it’s all in the mind. Control your thoughts before you hit the stage and you’ll give a far better performance.
Need direct help with your public speaking?
If you’ve got a pitch or presentation coming up but unsure of a few things – I can help. Check out Pitch Review and get in touch. I’ll help you polish your performance, boost your confidence and be 100% ready for showtime.
So, it’s over to you.
Got any hard-hitting advice to handle public speaking nerves just before stepping on stage? I’d love to hear your take on the topic.