As a presentation skills trainer and coach, one of the most common things I help people deal with is nerves. Most people are so afraid of speaking in public that they would do almost anything to avoid it.

In today’s post I’d like to share with you my personal top tips for conquering those nerves and training those butterflies in your stomach to “fly in formation”. These techniques really work but you do have to practice them. Just reading about them won’t do it! The good news is that these techniques are simple and easy.

Now some people do have a real phobia of public speaking and they need specialised coaching or therapy to rid themselves of this fear once and for all. I myself have used NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) techniques to remove phobias however it’s too specialised a subject to cover in this blog and requires face to face support.

So here are my favourite tips that will work for most people.

  1. Three or more slow, deep breaths
  2. Act as if…
  3. Invite the fear in
  4. See yourself successful
  5. Hold a little saliva in your mouth

Tip number one is so simple and obvious that many people dismiss it without trying it. That’s a pity because it is really powerful. Just notice what happens you you when you deliberately take three slow, deep breaths, preferably in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Fill your lungs right to the bottom with each in breath. Yes your tummy will balloon out a little when you do this but nobody will notice honest. now hold that breath for a count of five then slowly exhale through your mouth until all you cannot squeeze out any more air. Your tummy
should come in towards your backbone as you do this.

This simple exercise, repeated at least three times will bring you a deep sense of relaxation and calm. This is a great one to practice as you prepare for a presentation.

Tip number two is called “Act as if..” because that’s exactly what you have to do. In the case of being confident enough to give a great presentation you need to act as if you were feeling confident. Now think about this. How would you be standing if you were feeling confident? How would you be breathing? How would you be holding your head, What sort of expression would you have on your face? If you force yourself to take on the physiology of confidence guess what will happen? That’s right the longer you hold the physiology, the more confident you will start to feel.

Tip number 3 is about inviting the fear in. Sounds counter intuitive I know but it really does work. When we call fear’s bluff it evaporates like the phantom it really is. If you think you are feeling faint then, rather than resisting it, tell yourself to faint right here right now and see what happens. The answer is absolutely nothing! The fear is a False Expectation Appearing as Real.

Tip number 4 called see yourself successful is all about visualisation or mental rehearsal. Most people who are fearful of making a speech or presentation are actually Olympic class visualisers, the only problem is that the visualise or imagine all the terrible things that could go wrong. When they do this it is obvious that they are feeding their fear and it just gets worse and worse. When you change this pattern and harness this amazing skill to imagine success instead of failure, the fear diminishes and disappears. The more you see, hear and feel yourself vividly delivering your speech confidently, fluently and with authority the better you will feel about the presentation.

And finally tip number five is another really simple one and involves you producing and holding a little saliva in your mouth. This one sounds a bit weird but it is actually closely related to tip number 2. Physiologically, the body can only produce saliva when you are not nervous. That’s why nervous people often complain of having a dry mouth. But, if you deliberately make a little saliva before your presentation and hold it in your mouth , your brain says “if I have saliva in my mouth I can’t be nervous” and it automatically increases the levels of endorphins, the natural positive mood enhancing compounds in your blood stream making you feel more confident and better able to speak confidently and fluently.

So if you suffer from pre-speech nerves thy these tips and let me know which ones work best for you.


  1. Kath Ling on 01/11/2009 at 10:55

    Could you recommend any specific resources, books, or other blogs on this topic?

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