Tip on public speaking: Don’t say you’re nervous

When speaking in public, you are bound to feel jittery. You are in front of an audience, singled out, with everyone observing you. It’s perfectly normal to feel somewhat nervous.

What you don’t want to do is call attention to it. Don’t start out your speech by saying: “I’m sorry, I’m a bit nervous right now.” Speakers tend to do this as a way to build rapport with the audience. They think that confession will build sympathy for the speaker and the audience will be more attentive to what the speaker says.

But it doesn’t work. By confessing to the nervousness, the speaker has called attention to it, and now the audience focuses on the nervousness rather than the message. The slight stammer, the shaky hand, the uncomfortable fidgeting that all may have gone unnoticed now become magnified. The audience sees a nervous person on stage and feels pity. Yet the power of the statement becomes lost. Your opportunity to voice your thoughts is lost to your own honesty.

When addressing an audience, speak confidently. They are listening to you for a reason. They have given you their attention and their time. No matter how nervous you may be feeling, don’t waste that precious chance. Be confident.

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