Overcome Being the Nervous Public Speaker

WRITTEN February 9, 2014 Author: Rich Atkins

Most people have some degree of nervousness when speaking in public. But being the nervous public speaker should not hold you back. The best antidote to fear or nervousness is, believe it or not, embracing it–moving forward anyway. Once you start, the fear begins to decrease.

Think back on all the times in your life when you have been the most nervous, the most fearful.  In most cases, our fears were way worse than what really ended up happening. Usually, the actual situation is far better than what our fears told us it would be.

When we use the word “fearless,” we don’t really mean that one is completely without fear! It means that the speaker can go ahead and do well, despite the fear. The Nike slogan applies quite well here. “Fear less. Do more. Get outside and get after it.”

The following ideas will help you embrace and triumph over being the nervous public speaker:

  • Focus on the message–not yourself. UB4I
    • You are there to share your information, your message, with others. Make sure you convey your ideas clearly.
  • Remember that fear is normal (it means you care).
  • Turn nervousness into positive energy.
    • Say “I am excited!” Stay away from “I am nervous.”
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
  • Be humble and humorous.
  • Know your audience–do research, if possible.
  • Know your material.
  • Practice–only deliver speeches that you practiced.
  • Gain experience by saying “yes” every time you’re offered the opportunity to speak to a group (more practice builds confidence).
  • Visualize a success.
  • Realize people want you to succeed.
  • Don’t apologize for small mistakes. 
    • Be human–mistakes are acceptable.
  • Be yourself–be natural.

Try these positive approaches for reducing speaker anxiety:

  • Expect favorable results
  • Rehearse
  • Practice Breathing Techniques
  • Video record yourself

Read back through our list, you will see that most of the habits we have that cause fear of public speaking are also the habits that just need to be turned around to help people get past being the nervous public speaker. So, instead of seeing a failure, see a success! Instead of being anxious, be excited! It is in your hands.


This information is from the Improving Communications Public Speaking: Improving Presentation Skills class. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.
Image by claude_star from Pixabay

Other Resources for a Nervous Public Speaker:

Number One Technique to Reduce Public Speaking Anxiety (Video)

Why Are We Scared Of Public Speaking?

Top Ten Presentation Tips for Nervous Public Speakers

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