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The real reason you shouldn’t tell audiences you’re nervous … and what to do instead

by | Jun 10, 2024 | 0 comments

False sense of connection

You might think that sharing your discomfort with the audience is a way to build rapport and empathy with your group.

You’re doing the exact opposite with this maneuver. First, you’re telegraphing a lack of confidence. Second, you’re making your audience uncomfortable. Third, even though you’re being transparent and honest, you’re not reducing your level of speaker anxiety one iota.

A better approach

Act confident.

I did not say, “Be confident.” Being confident is your goal, and that comes with experience, training and content knowledge. “Acting confident” means being an actor of confidence. The cliché, fake it till you make it, comes to mind.

To look confident, even if you don’t feel all that confident, do the following:

  • Have good posture.
  • Use effective eye contact.
  • Project your voice.
  • Smile – have an open facial expression.
  • Walk with purpose (rather than swaying, pacing, rocking, or doing an imaginary cha-cha-cha dance).
  • Stop fidgeting.
  • Reduce verbal clutter.

No surprises there

I’m about to facilitate a full-day public speaking workshop for emerging leaders at a technology company. In the pre-workshop survey the attendees have shared that they’re either pretty nervous to extremely nervous. No surprises there. I can’t wait to share our best practices on how to channel these negative gremlins into positive energy.

I’ll be sure to tell them not to share their nervous angst when making a speech, doing a pitch, or running a meeting.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  by Robin Sachs Photography on Atlanta Beltline

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