Tips for nervous speakers



I just found some notes scribbled in an old Moleskine.

They are headed “Be Confident!”

Must have been a note to self for a very good reason I now can’t remember, but seem to be anticipating a presentation to be made, or maybe in the aftermath of one I screwed up!

Can’t believe I thought these up. I usually steal other people’s’ ideas.

So feel free to steal these from me. When I was at Microsoft one of our comms mantras was “Steal Shamelessly,” actually that might have been the business plan – only joking.

My apologies to anyone reading this who claims them as their own! Do shout!!


  1. Believe in yourself – you are unique. The audience will believe in you if you believe in you!
  2. Share stories – that will change other people’s lives. Don’t play it safe – empower your audience, stimulate change in the mind of the listener. Tell your story with passion.
  3. Plan and prepare – well in advance, then do it again and again. Procrastination is a killer. Take time to research and do your prep. Always debrief with a friend. Ask for feedback. Listen to it.
  4. Respect yourself – speak positively about yourself. Don’t be afraid to claim credit when credit is due.
  5. Hold on to the memory – of the last successful presentation you made. Focus on that one, not the ones that didn’t go so well.
  6. Know your messages – stories are more important than just message lines to take, but every story must have a memorable message.
  7. Rehearse – in front of a mirror, in front of a friend (who you trust!). Rehearsing is the best key to self-confidence. Don’t wing it. Ever.
  8. Warm-up – is essential. Breathe deeply, move your facial muscles around, shake your hands, dry your hands, vocalise before you go on stage.
  9. Be positive – affirm yourself. You’ve been asked to speak because somebody wants to hear what you have to say, if they didn’t you wouldn’t be there. There is one speaker but hundreds in the audience. You are the one they want to hear more than each other (hopefully!).
  10. Know your stuff – inside out upside down and back to front. DO NOT READ from a script – ever. Don’t use Notes unless you really have to. Avoid lecterns which are comfort blanket props – you’ll just end up hanging on to it with your head down. WALK ABOUT.
  11. Speak from the heart – if you don’t mean it don’t say it. Conviction is everything. Nobody buys anything from someone who wouldn’t buy from themselves.
  12. Don’t trip up.

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