Advantages of Being Nervous

Yesterday I heard two different speakers say as they began speaking, “I’m nervous.” 

It is okay to be nervous when you speak!

The key is controlling the nervousness.

Standing in front of an audience of 100 people or doing a Skype interview with a prospective employer can be intimidating, and there is nothing wrong with feeling a little uncertain. The key is that you don’t want to be so anxious that you pass out or your mind goes completely blank.

Earl Nightingale said what many of us feel when delivering a speech. “You may feel like you are in the terminal stages of some type of tropical fever.”

Much of our anxiety is mental. When we know we are about to speak, self-doubt can enter our thought process and create these messages in our thinking:

“I did not prepare enough.” 

“This audience does not want to listen to this material.” 

“My ideas are too trite for this group.” 

Chase away those negative thoughts. Substitute these words: 

“I have prepared well for this group.” 

“What I have to say will really be helpful to this group.” 

“This audience is going to learn from this speech as well as having fun while listening.” 

Your self-doubt will be less when you are speaking on a topic you enjoy talking about. With a topic you feel strongly about, confidence will grow and you can’t wait to face the audience. When you are speaking on a topic you like, your enthusiasm will be “caught” by your audience and they will encourage you by their nonverbal to have a positive attitude. As I often say in my seminars, the last four letters in “enthusiasm” can stand for “I am sold myself.” When you are sold yourself, you can sell others on your ideas.

One last way to help you when you feel too anxious is to listen to my webinar on stage fright at .

Be more concerned when you feel absolutely no nervousness. This is often seen by the audience as boredom or indifference from you the speaker.

When you are nervous before or at the beginning of your presentation, welcome the feeling and use these suggestions to keep it under control.


Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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