Why Nervousness Is a Good Thing for Newbie Public Speakers

By: Michael Folgers


Newbie public speakers approach their first event with dread. On one hand, they really want to get up on stage and inspire the audience with just their words. On the other, they start doubting their ability to even speak. What sparks of ingenuity they had in writing their speeches may not be seen as such by the audience. Then they realize that it's just a bad case of nerves. They start to work on eliminating nervousness, which is a bad thing to do.

Why? Isn't it better if you're not nervous at all? Not necessarily. Being nervous means your body is functioning properly. In public speaking, you're faced with a situation where you can potentially embarrass yourself. This leads you to worry, feel nervous, or even outright panic. This is known as a stress response, or the "fight or flight" response. Your perception of the situation makes your brain prepare your body to either fight on to overcome what's before you or flee in the opposite direction. Either way, your body is pumped with adrenaline to help you do your fighting or fleeing with a bigger chance of success.

This means that in public speaking scenarios this stress response could go either way. You can back out of the whole thing (flee) or you take the adrenaline rush to push yourself to the podium and start talking (fight). The trick is how to use the stress response to propel yourself forward.

Know that every public speaker feels nervous before every speech regardless of how long they've been doing it. The best speakers simply know how to hide it. After the first word is uttered, they just keep talking until their nerves have calmed down or they forget that they were nervous in the first place. That said, the cliché phrase of the first step always being the hardest proves true.

That first step you take towards the center of the stage or the first sentence you speak at the beginning of your speech; these will be the some of the hardest things you'll ever face during your first public speech. This tells you that you're doing something that you either feel is important to you or something that you couldn't imagine doing.

If you can force yourself to take those first steps, then you've essentially put yourself in a situation where you can't turn back. You then force yourself, all with the aid of adrenaline rushing through your body, to continue. Before you know it, you have finished your speech and are met with applause.

If anything, your nerves remind you that you're human, just like your audience. It should remind you that you are speaking in front of them because you have learned a valuable lesson in your personal experiences that may benefit them. If you're speaking to a huge audience, take comfort in the fact that you can at least touch a few hearts if you can't all of them.

Minimizing nervousness or hiding it is good. Trying to completely eliminate it is bad. When you're not nervous, there's no stress response. When there's no stress response, there's no adrenaline rush. When there's no adrenaline rush, public speaking turns from a passion of yours into a chore; and it becomes boring quickly. For inspiration, you can take a look at Kevin Sheedy presenter on this page at Platinum Speakers.

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All public speakers are nervous at some point or another. Take a look at Kevin Sheedy Presenter on this page at Platinum Speakers for inspiration.

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