That Nervous Feeling
Two weeks ago I was involved in my 70th public speaking engagement (I know… who’s counting, right?) and I recall feeling just as nervous about this one as I did the first time I ever spoke.
After years of working in business development roles and fine tuning my public speaking skills, I would be lying if I said that the nerves had been completely eliminated. In my opinion, the more you speak and recognise your progression, the more you put pressure on yourself, and that heightens the nervous tension you feel.
However, I’ve realised that’s not such a bad thing. It’s about how you handle the pressure and what you do to harness those emotions. A healthy balance of nerves is a sign that you want to do your best and perform to a level which not only resonates with the audience, but leaves you walking away feeling accomplished.
Stepping onto the stage for the 70th time I honestly thought that I’d feel more comfortable, but it was quite the opposite! I had that uneasy feeling in my gut, the butterflies were going crazy and the pressure I had put on myself was growing as I was so determined to “do a good job and speak well.” My speech had been well rehearsed, I knew the key points and impact moments, yet for some reason something in my head just felt “off” which threw me into a spin, causing me to momentarily lose my focus.
It was at that moment that I just reminded myself that this is what I absolutely love doing and so I took myself back to the basics; composing myself before I start speaking. I reminded myself not to put so much pressure on myself and that all those thoughts were in my head – nobody else knew what I was thinking nor feeling. With three deep breaths to calm myself down, a quick recalibration of my nerves and taking a moment to fully feel the energy in the room, I was good to go!
Over the years of practicing public speaking I always thought that the more I did it then eventually, that feeling would go away. It’s a timely reminder that we are human and that even with practice and repetition, it’s still okay to feel that way and it will most certainly happen again. It’s a sign that you care and are so immersed in what you do, that you firstly want do a good job for the audience and secondly, for your own feeling of self-worth.
I’m speaking again in a week and this time, as I slowly click towards the 100 speech mark, I know I need to be more humble and accepting of that nervous feeling.