What I’ve learned in public speaking, is when the speaker is nervous and the audience sees it, it can create a spiraling feedback loop that is awkward for everyone.
One thing novice speakers are told in Toastmasters is, “Remember, the audience wants you to do well. They are rooting for you!”
At this point, I’ve seen enough nervous speakers, that this doesn’t affect me anymore. When I see a struggling speaker, I simply take a deep breath and know that whatever happens, the speaker will leave the stage intact, unharmed, and having learned something for next time.
However, what I DO find excruciating is listening to a speaker who is faking their confidence and trying to overcompensate for their thinly veiled nerves. When someone is hiding behind a wall of false confidence, it’s nearly impossible for me to connect with them. And if I can’t connect with them, how can I connect with what they trying to say?
Being an engaging and effective speaker takes practice and exposure before the nerves start to subside and you develop your own unique voice and style.
In the meantime, if you are a little (or a lot) nervous, just embrace it and own where you are. People respond to authenticity and lose interest in phoniness. When people trust that you have something real to say and you are being real, they will lean in to hear more. They will overlook shaky hands or a few stumbles and bumbles.
I remember a woman, who got up and spoke about her professional dreams. She had a soft voice and spoke in broken English, and yet she spoke with so much heart that the entire room was silenced and riveted by what she had to say.
Focus on getting your message clear and structured. Prepare so you know your information inside and out, and trust that the audience will know a genuine person when they see one.
In my experience (though I have no scientific data for this), people typically appear much less nervous than they reportedly feel. So, you already are probably look much more confident than you think you do.
If you are ready to discovering your authentic public speaking voice, contact me about public speaking coaching, or check out my services page.