How can I overcome my nervousness?
This is a new part of the series “How can/do I …?“ questions.
Today I’m covering tips and strategies on how you can overcome nervousness.
Your knees seem to be shaky. Your stomach aches. You start feeling moisture on your palms. You feel like you have a lump in your throat. Your self-esteem has just about reached the lowest level possible. Do these symptoms sound familiar? NERVOUSNESS has taken control of our mind and is ordering our body to play these tricks on us just in time for that important presentation, talk or performance on stage in front of an audience.
Everyone I’ve talked to (myself included) has had at least one of these symptoms. One thing we all had in common at that moment was that we didn’t want to go through the experience again.
What can you do at this point? How can I overcome nervousness?
Come up with a sorry excuse why you can’t do what you set out to do? Be honest, I’m sure you’ve at least thought of that possibility. I know I have, however, it’s not a solution. What has helped me and my students deal with and overcome nervousness is a combination of different strategies.
Before diving in to the strategies to overcome and leave nervousness behind you, you should first ask yourself why. Why do you feel like that? If you can identify what is causing you to feel like that, it’ll be easier to control those thoughts that are causing those feelings. Don’t forget we are individuals, so there is not only one correct strategy for everyone. You’ll have to try them out and see which work best for you.
Nervousness starts in your thoughts, change your thoughts and you change everything
1. Be prepared
Preparation covers putting in all the necessary work to achieve your goal and practicing numerous times. Record yourself while practising. It’ll help you get used to your voice and to discover the power your voice and the pauses have. In the preparation phase you can test everything and see what works best for you and your audience. So, in a nut shell Benjamin Franklin’s quote “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” says it all.
2. Visualise a positive experience
Go to a peaceful place where you can relax and close your eyes. Imagine yourself giving the presentation, talk or performance, which you have practised, in front of your audience. Your audience is looking at you in an admiring and friendly way. They are smiling and nodding to what you are saying. They are listening to you because you are speaking eloquently and making the necessary pauses to keep them engaged. You can see that they believe what you are telling them and that they trust you. You hear their applause and you feel the positive energy. As a result, you feel amazing because of the wonderful outcome. Open your eyes again. You’ve just lived through your challenge and it’s wonderful. By visualising in a positive way your mind will believe you’re remembering something you have already experienced. Try it, possibly you’ll want to do it more often.
3. Concentrate on your breathing
Before you step in front of your audience, concentrate on your breathing. Take slow and deep breaths. This will get your heart rate down and give you the mindfulness you need to calm down. It’s like a mini meditation. Try it for a few minutes. But be careful, you can also use this method to fall asleep.
4. Assume rapport, talk to your audience like you’ve already met them
This means just before you step in front of your audience you assume you’re talking to your best friend. This will let you feel more relaxed and comfortable.
5. Be excited
Do you remember when you were a child, how you felt before your birthday or Christmas? Excitement feels a lot like nervousness. We get excited about positive things. Tell yourself you’re excited not nervous, after all it is something positive.
6. Recognise your strengths
Sometimes we get nervous because we don’t believe in our abilities and strengths. Others seem to, that’s why you were chosen to give the presentation or talk. Recognise, perceive and use your strengths.
7. Be courageous
Step out of your comfort zone and accept the challenge. Put on your cape, be your own superhero and defeat those negative thoughts that cause nervousness.
8. Positive body language
There are different methods to achieve a positive body language. You can stretch and use a power pose, i.e. raise your fists in the air and jump as if you’ve just crossed the finish line. You can listen to your personal power song and do your happy dance. Whatever it takes to put you into a positive state go for it. If you stand straight in front of your audience, you will ray out confidence and your voice will have more space. Wearing a smile on your face will increase the endorphins, which will make you feel calm and good about yourself. Besides a natural reaction to a smile is to smile back. Try it out, you’ll be surprised.
9. Arrive early
Get to the venue early. Not only can you test everything one last time, you can also meet and talk to the attendees before you start. Look for things you have in common. Find someone nice you can look at during the first two minutes of your presentation or talk.
10. Worst case
What is the worst that can happen? Is it really that bad? Is it the end of the world? Or is it something you could smile away and start over? Don’t forget we’re all human. Most people in your audience aren’t there to see you fail, they’re there because they are interested in your topic or in you. Concentrate on them and be yourself.
Those are my favourite strategies to deal with and overcome nervousness. Do you have any you’d like to share? Then please do!
That just about wraps it up for today
One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.
I hope you’ve found these strategies useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.
Have a wonderful time and take care
PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.