Your One Minute Toastmaster

by Henry O. Miller

10 tips to help control nervousness when you are up at the podium

Feeling some nervousness before speaking to any audience is natural and at times, even healthy. Channel your anxiety, and you will be OK. Some nervous energy might show that you are passionate and care about what you are presenting to your audience. Too much nervousness will detract from your message and performance. Your physical preparation is also an essential “P” when preparing for the platform. Your other P’s are: Preparation and Practice before Presenting.

Here are ten tips to help control nervousness when you are up at the podium:


1.    Know the Room.  Become familiar with the speaking area before it is your turn to speak.  The view from the speaking area is quite different from the audience or the back of the room.

2.    Know Your Audience.  Meet and, if possible, greet some of your audience as they arrive. Meeting your audience before you speak can help you better connect as you look out into the audience as you deliver your speech.

3.    Know Your Material.  In the words of Dr. Ralph C Smedley, “A prepared speaker should not be nervous.”

4.    Relax.  Get on your feet, stretch a bit before taking the stage.

5.    Visualize Yourself Giving Your Speech. Harbor positive thoughts. Visualize yourself being successful, and you will be successful.

6.    Think Positive. Audiences do not want you to fail. Smile and your audience will smile back at you.

7.    Don’t Apologize. Do not call attention to any of your slipups. Those slipups may very well have gone unnoticed.

8.    Focus on Your Message.  When you focus on your message and your audience, your attention moves away from yourself. Your energy moves outwardly towards your message and your audience. Be the messenger, not the message.

9.    Turn Nervousness into Positive Energy.  Put nervous energy to work and infuse your speech with vitality and enthusiasm.

10.    Gain Experience. Experience Builds Confidence.  Grasp every opportunity you get to SPEAK! Grasp every chance you get to EVALUATE! Evaluations are the key to becoming a better communicator.


Written by Henry O. Miller, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), of
SCO Toastmasters, Surf City Toastmasters, The Grummarians, Next Step Toastmasters, Point of Order