Beating presentation nerves: Make it happen

by Peter Watts

“Apprenticeship should not be put off, for fear grows upon us day by day. What we must attempt appears continually more alarming, and while we are deliberating when we will begin, we find that the time for beginning is past.”

These words were written 2000 years ago as guidance for young Romans starting out on their careers as public speakers. They remain true for us today. Whether your challenge is to speak to a more senior audience, or is simply to speak at all, the time for doing it is now!

Public speaking is often like jumping into the sea during that first day at the beach. You have to nerve yourself for the shock of the cold, but once in the water, you find it’s not as freezing as you feared. The quotation reminds us that the longer we hesitate, the harder it becomes to make that plunge. We must break the shock barrier, and enter the water.

The entry is sometimes forced upon us. For example, the boss may tell us we have to make a presentation next week. If no such catalyst occurs, we have to find that starting point for ourselves and create our own opportunity:

  • offer to make a presentation to your colleagues or team
  • present new products or services to an existing customer
  • offer to take part in a presentation to a new customer
  • give a talk in a social, political, or church group to which you belong
  • join the Toastmasters organization which develops speakers around the world

The cultures of the world offer maxims such as “a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single foot-step”. These all tell us the same thing; “take the plunge, make it happen”.

You are a confident presenter. You need to give yourself the chance to find that out!

Come on in, the water’s lovely!

For more ideas on how to control presentation nerves, try the following Presenters’s Blog posts:

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