One of the biggest enemies of motivational speakers is their own nerves. It is commonly a big problem for anyone who regularly faces an audience as part of their job. How can you fight it? Here are five effective ways to put your nerves under control.
1. Find a calming habit that you can practice before going on stage:
The work of motivational speakers can induce a cycle of stress and nervousness. This can cause a repetition of emotional and mental turbulence that can worsen progressively. Hence, it is important that you also form a calming habit that can condition your mind every time you are about to battle your nerves. Take it as a strategy to preempt stress before it disturbs you.
A calming habit can be anything that makes you feel good before starting your speech. For many speakers, practicing a simple breathing exercise for a minute is already enough while for some, listening to music is more effective. Your habit really depends on your personality and preference, so you have to understand your own emotions.
2. Bring something that makes you happy every time you work:
While a calming habit is undoubtedly effective, tangible things may sometimes be more effective. This is especially true for people who believe in charms or have special items with sentimental value. Some people simply have a thing for fancy things, such as stuffed toys, jewelries, toys, and books. It is also undeniable that some people simply need foods to cheer them up. Try eating a bar of chocolate before going on stage perhaps.
We also suggest that you look back to your childhood and think about the things that used to make you feel good. Psychologists believe that things with emotional value from your childhood are more effective in triggering positive emotions. Never mind if it seems ridiculous. What’s important is that it gets the job done.
3. Have something that can help you release tension and stress:
While the previous tip refers to something that you do not necessarily have to use, this tip refers to something that you have to actively use to work. The best example of this is a stress ball that you can play in your hands to help you release the tension building up inside you. Nevertheless, bringing this on stage is not a good idea unless you deliver your speech from behind a podium.
Some people hold a hanky on one hand while the other holds the microphone while some people hold a laser pen just to have something that they can fiddle with clandestinely. Whatever it is, it should be something discrete from the audience’s view.
4. Never memorize your speech verbatim:
This is a big mistake that many novice motivational speakers commit. They think that memorizing their speech word by word will help them avoid mistakes. The opposite is actually true.
Memorizing a speech verbatim only worsens tension because the chance of committing a mistake also increases. You have more lines to forget when you know your speech down to the last exclamation point. Knowing that you have memorized your speech also unnecessarily sets the bar higher because a simple mistake already becomes obvious from your standpoint, regardless if the audience do not really know that you have committed one (unless they have a detailed copy of your speech, which is rarely done when compared to giving outlines).
Instead of memorizing your speech verbatim, memorize its core message—memorize it by heart so that you know how to continue regardless if you miss an entire paragraph.
5. Look in the eyes of your audience:
As opposed to the common belief of novice motivational speakers that looking in the audience’s eyes only worsens nervousness, doing it actually reinforces confidence because you get to receive non-verbal approval from the audience. You instantly know when your audience understand what you are saying and at the same time, you are able to respond appropriately when your audience’s stares imply confusion and disagreement.
Looking in the eyes of your audience can be really intimidating at first. However, this is very important for you to make a connection and truly bridge your message. Not looking in your audience’s eyes may seem comfortable at first, but the lack of connection may eventually make your feel alone and misunderstood, both of which can rob you off your self-esteem.
If eye contact is uncomfortable for you at first, practice it in front of a mirror while rehearsing your speech or better yet, talk with a lot of people to develop your interpersonal communication skills.