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Do You Suffer from Podium Jitters? How to Conquer Your Nervousness at the Lectern

While teaching a presentation skills workshop in Washington DC, I covered the entire process required to prepare, rehearse, and deliver an effective PowerPoint presentation.

Of the dozens of sub-topics I addressed, which do you think drew the most questions? “How do I get over my nervousness? What can I do about my terrible fear of public speaking?”

Some of my advice:

  • Realize you’re not the only one who gets nervous at the mere thought of public speaking. Most speakers feel some degree of “the jitters” when they present.
  • Realize the audience doesn’t see many of your “fear of speaking” problems. The sweaty palms? The tight neck muscles? The butterflies you feel? Yes, they are real to you, but honestly, your audience can’t see them.
  • Realize you know your material better than anyone else in the room. Days before you speak, keep reminding yourself, “I’ve researched this information for 3 months. I know this topic inside out. The audience can learn a lot from me. This presentation will be good for my career.”
  • Realize no one in the whole room would like to take your place at the lectern. They’re glad to be sitting in the audience. They’re very glad you’re doing the talking so they can just listen.
  • If you’re serious about tackling nervousness, please take an hour or two to read It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It (St. Martin’s Press). You can borrow the book from a library and get a detailed section on “Nervousness”, with dozens of practical tips and examples. Tackle those podium jitters … and watch your career take off.

    “Her book helps alleviate speakers’ anxieties so they can concentrate on their messages.” (Loren Gary, editor, Harvard Management Update)