How to Start a Speech if You're Very Nervous?

In this article, Sergey Gavrilov, managing partner of BEsmart Communication Studio, will share his advice on how to start a performance if you get very nervous.
"When I start a performance, I get so excited that my voice becomes ringing."

"I get really nervous at the beginning of a presentation, but then I get into the process and feel much more comfortable."

"Before an important performance, I need a glass of beer to feel better"

Sound Familiar?

In 2015 we did research on speakers' stress levels during a speech, adding different stressors. We realized that the highest level of nervousness is at the beginning of the speech.
Sergey Gavrilov, co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach
Sergey Gavrilov
Co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach

What Doesn't Help for sure?

Having a glass of beer before a speech might not be the best idea. Check out why here: Shall you drink to become a better public speaker?
Don't tell the audience you're nervous at the beginning of a speech. By saying so, you are shifting responsibility for your condition. The audience will hear "I didn't prepare well, so I'm worried it's going to go wrong".
Sergey Gavrilov, co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach
Sergey Gavrilov
Co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach

Begin Your Presentation With an Intro Without any Semantic Content

You do not need to convince anyone of something from the very beginning. Better start with the contextualized interactive part:

  • share how you liked the conference generally or cookies at the coffee break
  • find out if the audience liked the previous presentation
  • ask a question about the topic of your speech
For example, if your speech is about marketing, you can ask listeners to share best practices and tools in their company and give your expert opinion.
  • Tell them why you decided to speak on the topic, what inspired you:
"The topic of social media promotion has fascinated me for many years. It started with the fact that my friend's posts were getting a lot more likes than mine. That's when I decided to find out why this was happening"
Such an introduction may take from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the overall timing of the performance.
Sergey Gavrilov, co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach
Sergey Gavrilov
Co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach

Why Do You Need an Intro?

  • You can check the microphone and whether the presentation is on
  • Understand the mood of the audience to adjust
  • Get conversational, tune in psychologically and functionally – go from a ringing voice to a normal voice
No need to fight nervousness – instead it's better to add self-confidence and focus on preparation and content.
Sergey Gavrilov, co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach
Sergey Gavrilov
Co-founder of BEsmart, public speaking coach

Need help preparing your presentation?

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