Asking people if they “get nervous” when they have to stand up and speak is almost not worth asking. For most of us, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
No matter the context, be it leading a meeting, giving a wedding toast, interviewing for the next role, or pitching to a new client, we mostly attribute a ‘mission critical’ attitude to our success. So how do we take a step forward and prepare ourselves to succeed while managing our nerves?
Let’s answer that by hitting on a few simple, recurring themes we talk about at LatimerNext:
- Set some goals for the conversation or the presentation. What do you want people to do when they leave the room? Figure out what you are trying to achieve.
- Figure out who will be in the room, and anticipate their questions, concerns, issues or objections. Know your audience.
- Outline your message plan. What are the key points? What do you need people to remember?
- Figure out the story first, before you design any slides or visuals or handouts. The slides are the visual representation of the story you choose to tell. So choose your story, then design your slides, write your email or build your resume.
- Practice. Don’t just stare at your notes or your slides in silence. Speak out loud. Practice what you want to say, especially the first few minutes of your presentation.
Nerves reduce as your confidence grows. You want your confidence to increase? It doesn’t happen naturally. And contrary to popular opinion, speaking in public well is not an entirely natural gift. The best speakers work at it the hardest, just like any other skill.
Have a plan, and practice. Will that be enough to calm your nerves? For some of you, yes. For others, maybe not. But for all of us, some preparation and practice will get us to a better place. Even if it does not get you as calm as you hope to be, you will be calmer than you otherwise will be. And that’s a great start.
Let us know if we can help you reduce your nerves ahead of your next ‘mission critical’ moment.