I love all the articles and advice on the internet today which deal with quelling nervousness, combating nervousness, eliminating nervousness and ending those nervous jitters. Unfortunately, most of them do not discuss the benefits of nervousness in public speaking and why it should be your best friend and not your worst nightmare!
Years ago, opera singer Maureen Forrester was asked if she ever wished she had been a stay-at-home mom and she replied, “Every time I walk onto the stage!” All great speakers, performers, and athletes are nervous. If you think they are not, then you are wrong. The difference, however, is that they use their nervousness to their benefit.
Nervousness is wonderful. That rush of adrenaline can take your presentation, your performance, or your game to unknown heights if you allow it to work for you and not against you.
I love nervousness. Without it, I wouldn’t want to speak because my nervousness gives me an edge that I don’t experience if I am overly confident which has happened only once during my long career as a professionally speaker. Many years ago, I was invited to speak at a women’s insurance meeting and during the meal, I had a glass of wine, just one glass. That was my mistake.
As one who drinks very little, I lost my edge during the presentation. Not only was I not nervous but I was also too confident, both characteristics which I attribute to that one glass of wine. Never again would I have a drink before speaking even when I gave a presentation at Labatt’s in London, Ontario a few weeks later. Not only did they invite me to have a beer, but they expected me to drink during my presentation! I declined because I knew I would not sound as professional.
I want my clients – I want all public speakers – nervous. Public speaking is a live venue. As well prepared as you may be and as good as your delivery skills may be, what happens during your presentation is always an unknown. If you are communicating with your audience, you can never predict your outcome. That is one of the blessings of dynamic public speaking. And, that, in itself, is a reason to be nervous.
Expect to be nervous. Learn how to control it, however, and allow it to work for you and not against you. It can take your speech or presentation to a level you never knew existed!