Controlling Your Jitters While Public Speaking

public speaking fear

Session Six: Controlling Your Jitters

public speaking fearOvercoming Nervousness

As an entrepreneur, you will find it necessary to speak in public regularly. You may have to present to a team of prospects; at a staff meeting or presenting at an event. Either case, you want to present confidently and comfortably.

Some nervousness is normal for anyone, especially the first few times you make a presentation or speak in public. These jitters can actually help you and give you an edge when you take that nervous energy and deliberately use it as fuel for your presentation.

Nervousness has a way of spiraling, where you may notice all of a sudden that your heart is pounding, your knees are shaking, or your voice is trembling. Here are some helpful tips to get control back.

The secret you want to learn is not necessarily the confidence that comes from experience, although that helps, but a change in attitude. When you learn to shift your focus from yourself to the audience, you start to release the hold that fear has on you.

Discussion Points

Has anyone here found a quick way to counteract nervousness? Possible answers:

  • Visualization
  • Relaxation exercises (deep breathing, exercise, music)
  • Exercise

One of things that you will notice is that when you are well prepared for your presentation, you will feel less nervous about it.

While confidence can be built from repeated practice, a change in attitude also helps enormously. This requires that you shift your thinking from being all about you, to focusing on your audience. What are their needs? What is their agenda?

Nervousness can be attributed to many sources. These two are particularly important:

  • One is the constant stream of internal negative comments that nags speakers when they begin to think about the presentation. (“I wonder how I’ll come across this time? Last time I made a presentation, I was sure everyone was laughing at me when I had so much trouble with the equipment.”)
  • The other source of tension comes from hyper-responsibility. The presenter feels that he or she alone is responsible for the reactions and well-being of everyone in the room.

Think about it this way: you believe in what you’re saying. You’re prepared. In fact, for this presentation, you’re the only person who is so well prepared. Your audience needs to know what you have to say.

confident presentingChange the words you say to yourself from negative messages to more positive ones. List your concerns on a sheet of paper before the presentation. Then, for every negative message, substitute a positive one. For instance, if your negative message is, “I’m a nervous wreck,” write, “I can channel this nervous energy into the presentation and give a more enthusiastic performance.” This effort may take some repetitions, but if you give it a chance and believe in it, eventually it works.

Any tendency you have toward taking responsibility for everyone in the room can also be fought. Come to terms with the fact that everyone in the room will not necessarily accept your ideas. It’s not your job to please everyone. Your job is to get your message across in clearly understandable terms to the people who must have the information. Concentrate on the decision maker and on those who respond positively to you. Ignore the others so that you can complete your presentation without their negative energy interfering.

It is hard to counteract nervousness if you do not feel in control of the situation, so take time before the presentation begins to put yourself in control.

  • Allow plenty of time to check out the room and equipment.
  • Start on time. Unless the decision maker in your audience is delayed, don’t wait for stragglers. Delaying will make you and your audience fidgety.
  • Greet people as they come in. Chat casually with participants  until it’s time to start.
  • Eliminate any physical barriers that stand between the audience and you. If you’re behind a table or lectern, move away from it. Don’t cling to the podium or your projector. It makes you look nervous, and it really is a physical barrier between you and your audience. Removing barriers opens the way to meaningful conversation.

This session comes from the Callahan Coaching & Consultant’s Public Speaking Under Pressure training.

How do you control the jitters when you publicly speaking? I would love to hear how you handled a time when you had to speak in front of an unfriendly group.

In awareness, passion, joy, purpose and confident public speaking,

#1 small busienss coach and trainer in charlotte



About The Author


Andrea Callahan is a brand designer. She helps passion & purpose-driven entrepreneurs maximize their strengths to craft and implement an image that represents their WHY and to use that why to position themselves as an Industry Influencer. She a speaker, seminar leader and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear" available on Callahan launched the Industry Influencer Academy at

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