Managing nerves

Nervousness is probably the biggest problem that most inexperienced speakers face. Actually, it's good to feel a bit nervous, as this provides the adrenalin rush we need to give a good performance. However, excessive nerves can have the opposite effect and no-one enjoys the physical or emotional symptoms of fear. So how can nerves be managed?

  • Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse in front of the mirror, or with friends. Feeling prepared goes a long way to calming your nerves.
  • Name your fears. Write down exactly what it is you're afraid of, then you can devise strategies to cope.
  • What is the worst that can happen? Even if the talk fails miserably, you will not die. Thinking of the worst case scenario often puts things back in perspective.
  • Relaxation techniques. Regular deep breathing gives your body the oxygen it needs to burn off excess adrenalin, thus calming you down. A walk should have the same effect.

"If you are over-nervous, it does not mean you cannot be a successful speaker, it merely means you have more work to do." Turk, Christopher. (1985) Effective Speaking: communicating in speech. London : Spon. p.112

Activity: Think of some ways that you could lessen your fears about making presentations. What techniques could you use to help yourself relax more? Make a note of them.

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SMILE by Imperial College, Loughborough University, GCU SCEBE Learning Development Centre and the University of Worcester, modified by Marion Kelt Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.