You’ve dreamt of this moment for a long time. You imagine yourself on the TED stage. Finally, thousands of people will hear your message live and millions will see it on YouTube. Then the dream turns to a nightmare. You open your mouth, and nothing comes out. Your hands are shaking, your mouth is dry, and your heart is pounding. You think to yourself: “quickly, say something, anything.” And all that comes out is: “uhmm ahhh.” You think to yourself: “What am I going to say? I have nothing to say. I am not a TED speaker!”
Many people fear public speaking. Before speaking, you experience self-doubting thoughts such as:
- I’m not a speaker
- I won’t make sense
- I’ll make mistakes
- They’ll laugh at me
- I’m going to say something stupid.
You also feel it through the physical reaction of nervousness such as:
- A pounding Heart
- A dry Mouth
- Shaky Hands
- A quivering Voice
So, what can you do to overcome your nervousness? Below are our top 3 tips.
1) Embrace the feeling
The feeling of nervousness is caused by adrenaline. This hormone is released when we perceive a threat triggering what is called the fight-or-flight reaction. It makes your heart race, your muscles tense up and your mind becomes sharp and focused. While Adrenaline is useful if you are in an actual threatening situation; speaking is not a survival challenge.
Public speaking triggers our stress reaction, because we give it weight. The pressure to perform causes Adrenaline to be released and we feel nervous. Nervousness, as uncomfortable as it may be, has an upside; Yes, it is a good thing.
Adrenaline will allow you to focus. It’s the same hormone you feel when excited; like if you were at a concert or riding a roller coaster. You also feel it when going for a job interview or taking an important exam. It helps you perform. No one can give a talk without a little bit of excitement. You really don’t want your energy level to be the same as what you’d experience reading a book or watching a movie.
So, embrace the feeling. Nervousness is natural. It doesn’t mean you won’t perform well; it actually gives you the focus you need to do well. When you fixate on your nerves and start thinking: “Oh my God, I am nervous.” That’s when it starts blocking you.
2) Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Do you remember driving a car for the first time? Or doing your important work tasks for the first time? There is a little nervousness every time we do something new. The only way it eases is when we do it more and more.
If you’re speaking, the only way to get more comfortable is to prepare, prepare and prepare. Don’t just prepare your slides, or your talking points. Rehearse over and over. Practice with a mirror; practice with friends; record a video of yourself; practice in the room; practice every section of your talk; go over bits that you don’t like. The more the better
3) Calm your nerves
While we have a new-found appreciation of adrenaline, we don’t want too much of it. The best way to calm your nerves, is to allow the system that relaxes you to work. The easiest way to do that s to ibreathe. There’s really no faster way to calm yourself, other than to try to take deep slow breaths.
This may be a weird tip for you. Perhaps you’re thinking: “Breathe? That’s it? I’m breathing already.” The answer is, you’re not. When you’re stressed, your breathing becomes shallow to cope with your racing heart. When you start breathing slow and deep, it calms your system down and your heart at the same time. So, the next time you start having that feeling of nervousness, take a few deep breaths. First, you’ll notice that you really weren’t breathing. Next, you’ll start to feel yourself calming down.
These are our top tips to help you overcome nervousness. The internet is full of many more suggestions. These are the three that based on our experience, we know are going to help you overcome nervousness, bringing you a few steps closer to your TED dream.