June 23, 2011

How To Get Over Nervousness Before Life's Big Moments

Stage FrightEXP
People often ask me, "do you get nervous before a big talk?" 

Truth is, I do get nervous, but not about the speaking part.  I am nervous that the crowd won't show up, the talk won't connect with the group's emotional needs and some part of the logistics may go haywire. I'm very confident in my speaking skills, but must face the fact that things can still go wrong. 

I'm sure you have this feeling too, regardless of your profession.  You sweat before big meetings, presentations, performances or group projects.  You may even feel bad, like being a little nervous means you lack confidence. 

It's actually important that you have a case of butterfly's before big moments, it means you recognize that the stakes are high and in reality, nothing is a lock.  This helps you balance your confidence, so don't fight it -- overcome it so you can be in flow when the time comes.  Here's the best way to beat the nerves: 

1 - Prepare, prepare, prepare. The #1 way to immunize yourself against nervousness is to prepare fully.  In Today We Are Rich, I prescribe that you acquire some specialized knowledge to use during your performance.  Do some sleuthing online or via your network, and find out some surprising and interesting facts or news.  Watch video or read experts to enhance your skill set for the task.  

2 - Rehearse "as if". One day prior to any big moment, fully rehearse what you'll do (not in your head!).  If you can, create a similar environment (same room, mock crowd, distractions, etc.). Rehearse jumping over these hurdles.  If you are doing ANY customized performance, you need to try it out on an audience, or at the very least, in front of the mirror.  When it's go-time, you'll know internally that you are ready for anything. 

3 -  Recollect a previous success experience.  What do you fill your mind with right before your big moments?  Scenarios of failure, worry, fear, self-doubt?  I suggest that right before you 'deliver' you close your eyes and recollect a time in your career when you faced a similar challenge and rocked it. Recollect your preparation, the nerves you felt right before you performed, the turning point where you saw victory at hand - and some visual trophy from the experience.  It could be a logo from letterhead, a check, a complimentary email, etc.   Remind yourself you are just as ready and just as good as that person was. 

Like all elements of confidence, you can't just fake-it-till-you-make it when it comes to pre-performance nerves.  You have to DO specific things to either prevent it, or power through it. You can't just hope that nerves will vanish when you get your legs underneath you - if they see you sweat, you'll quickly lose authority.  Besides, it's no fun to be skeered when it's a big opportunity.  

This comes from Today We Are Rich, principle 5: Prepare Your Self 



Posted at 11:55 AM in Business Effectiveness , Public Speaking  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)



Great advice Tim! Recently I tried to do a practice presentation on Skype with a friend and performed miserably. It was the first time verbalizing it aloud. Spent the next evening performing it aloud while pacing around the soccer field and then in front of some peers. When it came to the day of the event, I was ready to go!


I've been in situation where I was nervouse bifore the performance and could never shake it off. Here in Sydney Ensemble Studios small theatre, even most of the time it was dark, still was too nervous and nothing absolutely nothing worked for me.Can't shake it off.


Great advice, Tim! Fear of speaking in public is one of the most common and prevalent fears in this country and I have a feeling that most of it stems from those "What Ifs" that run through our heads prior to a speech. Having a rehearsed plan for getting past those scenarios is a great way to overcome that fear.

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