Even world class speakers may get a hint of nervousness before stepping on stage. They of course have skills for masking any nervousness they may feel, so don’t be surprised if you can’t pick up on it.

I remember when I was first getting started delivering presentations everyday. I loved the work and was excited to have so many opportunities to speak, but every time I stepped on stage, I started off a bit nervous. This came across as energy and fast-talking. Not a great way to begin building a relationship with the audience I was going to be with for the next day or so.

I learned an important tip from a mentor at the time, that saved me! He recommended that I memorize the first ten minutes of all of my presentations. And he meant word-for-word memorization.

So I wrote out every word of the first ten minutes of all of the presentations I was giving the next week and I got busy memorizing them. I would walk through the house reciting them so often, that my wife began to be able to say them along with me! Even before bed, I would go over the scripts in my mind until I had them down. By they way, that is not a very good get-to-sleep strategy.

But what a difference it made with my presentations!

I got in front of my first crowd with my first 10 minutes memorized and I didn’t have to think about what I was going to say. I just went on auto-pilot and then I was able to focus on talking slowly, making eye contact, and really connecting with my audience. Any nervousness melted away. To this day, I still try to memorize the first 10 minutes of every presentation.

Now I give day-long presentations, so 10 minutes is a good amount to get into the swing of things and shake off any nervousness. Depending on the length of your presentation, you may want to memorize more or less of it.

Just be sure to memorize enough so that you have time to connect with the crowd and get calm and comfortable without having to think hard about every word coming out of your mouth.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

related posts: