You can be nervous and still give a great speech

man looking nervous holding paper

You really can be very nervous and still give a great speech.

At Mindful Presenter we are at very successful at helping people to overcome their public speaking anxiety

If you feel nervous at  the thought of presenting or public speaking, you’re not alone; in fact, you’re in very good company.

The history books are full of people who by their own admission tell of how nervous they were  before an important speech. Many are very open in talking about how they thought they would never get through it, yet somehow managed to not only do so but also deliver their message with power and impact.

Mahatma Ghandi, one of the world’s most admired and respected  leaders wasn’t just nervous, he was terrified of public speaking.

Thomas Jefferson, the United States of America’s third president wasn’t just nervous. He was afflicted with social anxiety which made him very fearful of public speaking.

One of the worlds greatest actors, Sir Laurence Olivier said,  “The day I lose my stage-fright is the day I will stop acting”.

The list of famous people is still as long today as it ever was. Many others have admitted feeling nervous about public speaking:

Bruce Willis

Samuel L. Jackson

Rowan Atkinson

Tiger Woods

Sir Richard Branson


Julia Roberts

JK Rowling

See, I told you that you were in good company.

The world is full of people who perceive themselves to lack the public speaking prowess and confidence to inspire an audience, yet have gone on to do precisely that.

We all know how the mind can he help us to conceive and achieve our greatest dreams, or confine us to limitation and misery.

Public speaking presents the same challenge for many people. If you are a nervous presenter, finding a really good public speaking course or one to one public speaking coaching will serve you extremley well.

The key to overcoming such anxiety is intent.

Having a sincere, honest and heartfelt intention to share something that you believe will be of real value to your audience is the best place to start if you are a nervous presenter. Confidence grows quickly when you start to believe in your message and how what you have to say will help your audience

Take J.K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement address as you can see on the video.

She begins her speech with the opening line:

“The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight”.

After rapturous applause and laughter she settles into her stride. She immediately connects with her audience and is just moments away from winning them over completely.

How does she do it whilst openly claiming such angst?

She endears herself to her audience through 3  extremely powerful communication tools.

– Self disclosure – which in its simplest form is the process of opening yourself up a little to your audience while accepting the feeling of vulnerability that accompanies doing so. In the case of J.K. Rowling, she humbly lets her audience into her personal world as she shares some of the challenges she faced on her journey.

– Story – the greatest way to connect with your audience is through the power of story. Watch how J.K. Rowling achieves this connection with her audience as she shares hers with them.

– Message – it’s through the power, clarity and belief in our own message that the fear, doubt and confusion dissipates. This leaves us free to deliver our point authentically and sincerely.

In this case, as you can see J.K. Rowling more than admirably delivered hers:

“I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.”

When you speak about something you passionately care about you will feel less nervous.  You have to have a desire to share  your message with others.

If you don’t have something to say which you feel will benefit others, you should feel nervous.

When you care and set a clear intention to make a difference to your audience the idea of feeling nervous transforms into one of excitement.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Image courtsey of


Share this article

Leave a comment

Download our Free Guide

Sign up for our newsletter and download your free guide to authentic public speaking.

When you sign up, you’ll get a link to our free guide, plus helpful public speaking articles posted on our site. You can unsubscribe at any time.