Overcoming Nerves

How to Increase your Self-confidence in Public Speaking (and Life)

Imagine that you're looking for advice on how to increase your self-confidence in public speaking. You want to build self-worth in that part of your life, so you come to see me as a client. You tell me that you're afraid of failure (aren't most of us?); that your confidence fluctuates - or is totally absent. Whichever applies, you can't rely on any confidence being there when you most need it during presentations. And you tell me that you have to tackle this problem, as it's holding you back professionally (and sometimes personally). Increase your self-confidence in public speaking I could...

Which Music Can Make you Feel More Powerful Before you Present?

What Music Makes You Feel More Powerful? Updated October 2019 We all know that music can have a strong effect on our emotions (I've only ever met one person who claimed that music didn't affect her at all). And there was a study done back in 2014 about which types of music make you feel more powerful, and lead to "higher perceived control over social events". The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, was inspired by the pre-game routines of athletes (Hsu et al., 2014). The authors explored 31 pieces from different genres of music (sports music, heavy metal, punk, reggae,...

Should you Move About When you Present, or Not?

Should you move around when presenting? As presenters, people tend to fall into two opposing ‘choreography’ camps when they’re in front of a group - you may recognise yourself here: You stand stock-still (often hiding behind – even hanging onto – the lectern), barely twitching except to advance a slide Advantage: you feel better because you’re in a safe space (or safer – of course it’s all relative!) Disadvantage: it’s a boring, un-engaging look for your audience, and using so little physical energy  is unhelpful for you too - if you're nervous, that adrenalin and cortisol will 'bank up' in your system and perpetuate any...

4 Tips to Redefine Public Speaking Anxiety

Reducing Presentation Anxiety Do you feel anxious when you have to speak to groups? Obviously you're not alone: public speaking is one of the toughest social situations that most people have to deal with. I've felt it myself, many times. Yet it's also one of the greatest opportunities to leverage your time, energy and visibility if you're interested in advancing your career. Here are 4 tips which can help to shift your negativity, and make presenting a more positive experience.  1. Start to see yourself as 'presenting' in everyday situations: when you walk into a meeting, pay for petrol or buy a...

Fear, and How to Build Belief around your Public Speaking

Building Belief I was talking with a client this week about her fears around failure and embarrassment when she gives a presentation at work, and how she felt they weren't normal.  I commented that they were indeed normal, and that we all have these fears as human beings.  It got me thinking about the different fears and needs we have, and how the ones below are so often triggered by public speaking. Fear of: failure rejection embarrassment discomfort uncertainty not being good enough And the needs we have: to be heard to be accepted to be loved When you look at these lists, it's no wonder that speaking in public is so...

Practising your Speech: your Most FAQ

Practising - your FAQ As a professionally trained pianist, practice has been part of my life since I was 6 years old. Time-consuming and often tedious, it's the focused, detailed work which makes going out on stage possible - a Classical musician wouldn't even contemplate walking out in front of a group without practising beforehand. Yet speakers frequently neglect this vital part of building confidence and professionalism, and a big part of the reason why seems to be lack of knowledge about what works around practice and what doesn't. So here's my FAQ list for you: What should be my practice goals? To...

How Mastering Discomfort Can Set You Free to Speak in Public

Mastering discomfort can set you free Speaking in public is confronting for most people. It can bring up all sorts of uncomfortable emotions and physical symptoms, which of course you'd rather avoid. But if what you want to achieve is outside your comfort zone, then inevitably there will be discomfort - or outright fear -  in getting there: "Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfort zone." - Seth Godin And if you're someone who's struggled through times in your life where you were really uncomfortable or afraid,...

5 Excuses Which Stop you Getting Help to Improve your Speaking Skills

Excuses which stop you from getting help to improve your speaking skills [Updated 2020] Are you letting your fears about speaking in public stop you from getting the help you need to improve your speaking skills? Change is hard, as we all know. We're designed to avoid doing anything which frightens us, hard-wired this way to ensure our survival. You can overcome speaking fear...the hardest part is just starting. My mother-in-law was dying (she was 97) when I originally wrote this post in 2013 - and seven years later, I believe that the ideas in it still resonate. It was such a privilege to...

How to Build Confidence When Public Speaking and Presenting

Confidence Building What do you believe about building confidence around your speaking skills? Here is what I've found to be true: confidence is simply the expectation of a positive outcome. There are all sorts of possible definitions of confidence, but I like this one; it's clear, and boiled down to its essence. So how, you may be asking, do you build that expectation of a positive outcome?  In 2 ways: 1. You take action in the outside world 2. You take care with your self-talk in the inner world Let's have a look at these 2 elements - which may be simple, but they aren't...

Mind-trick That Can Help With Public Speaking Fear

Here's a mind-trick for public speaking fear that many of my clients have found very useful. Imagine that you've just given a talk and it's gone well. You're now successfully on the other side of it, and have just been congratulated by your boss...or you phone your friend and tell them that it went well. This mind-trick - imagining that you've already successfully presented your talk - can work really well to counteract the negative, pessimistic thoughts or images which will inevitably surface at some point before you get up to speak (unless you're a supremely confident speaker, in which...