Shaky voice, knees knocking, palms sweating... just some of the symptoms when speaking under pressure – we’ve all been there. The question is: what to do about it? Join Speechless co-hosts Maryam Pasha and Simon Bucknall for practical tips and insights on how to handle taming the beast that is nerves.
[00:00:00] Simon Bucknall: Welcome to Speechless Soundbites Practical Storytelling Tips. In under five minutes, nerves can be a speaker's worst enemy, or your best friend. If you keep them in check, then the excitement can be a fuel. But if the adrenaline gets too much, it can all come crashing down in this week's Speechless soundbite.
[00:00:18] Simon Bucknall: You share some quick. Actionable tips around nerves, what to do when they strike, and how you can train them, manage them so that they help you rather than hinder you. So let's go[00:00:30]
[00:00:31] Simon Bucknall: Maryam. When was the last time you felt nervous?
[00:00:35] Maryam Pasha: Actually, quite recently. So TEDx London Women, we had 1500 people in the audience and it's not the biggest event we've done, but it's big and. I have been hosting telex events now for like eight or nine years. I've been on stage with them for 12 years and.
[00:00:51] Maryam Pasha: Every time, anywhere between, from the five minutes to the 30 minutes before the intro music starts, I, and I'm actually talking to you right now. [00:01:00] I can feel it. I have this like kick in my stomach and this rising sense of like, this was a terrible idea. Like who thought this would be a good idea? Let's definitely not do this.
[00:01:13] Maryam Pasha: Let's definitely not go out on stage. And I, and now having done it for so many years, I recognize that I have a little chuckle to myself because I'm like, oh, they're that old feeling again. But but that's not gonna stop you. Yeah. It's not gonna stop me and it's not gone away. So that was the last time I, I, I felt [00:01:30] nervous.
[00:01:30] Maryam Pasha: I would love to know Simon, from you, what are your two, the top two tips for dealing with nerves when
[00:01:35] Simon Bucknall: speaking? Well, lemme say, first of all, you mentioned Ted Ex London and women. Of course I was in the audience there and I, I don't remember feeling nervous for you when you stepped on stage because you stepped on stage as host so confidently and it's the last thing in the audience's mind is, which actually can be quite helpful to remember.
[00:01:50] Simon Bucknall: The audience isn't sitting there thinking, are they nervous or not? They're there thinking, We're hoping that it's just gonna be a worthwhile investment. Absolutely. Time. Absolutely. So the audience sees things from a very different perspective, of course, from the speaker, but [00:02:00] top two tips. I think the first one I'd say is this, there's all sorts of things that can make a difference in it's horses for courses, but I think a top one is it's adrenaline.
[00:02:07] Simon Bucknall: Be kind to yourself. I think people often think, oh, I'm feeling nervous, and it's, I'm feeling this and it's that and it's that. Well, the very phrase, feeling nervous is an interpretation. Of what you are actually experiencing, which is symptoms of adrenaline. Face goes red, adrenaline, heart pounding, it's adrenaline, sweaty palms, it's adrenaline, butterflies in the stomach, it's adrenaline.
[00:02:25] Simon Bucknall: So I'd say be kind to yourself. You are allowed to experience that. So [00:02:30] often the most nervous speakers or presenters are the most con conscientious because they are feeling certain perfectly natural, understandable symptoms and they are. Concerned about it. They fret about it. They worry about it. And as a result, of course that makes it worse.
[00:02:43] Simon Bucknall: So it's not about fighting it. Be kind to yourself at knowledge symptoms of adrenaline. That's okay. You are allowed to experience that. And I remember very consciously saying that in my head just before stepping up on stage, I brought Festival Hall at TEDx London in 2018, um, because I thought, this is TEDx London.
[00:02:59] Simon Bucknall: It's [00:03:00] the biggest TEDx conference in the uk. There's cameras, it's Ted, it's getting on the website and all these things. Two and a half thousand people in the audience, et cetera. So at the second tip, I'd say is, Is a very practical physical one. If, if adrenaline be kind to yourself is, is mindset second neutral stance, physicality.
[00:03:15] Simon Bucknall: I think identifying options for your neutral stance, which is not how to gesture, but it's how do you stand when you're not moving. Mm-hmm. And that's probably not gonna be with hands, you know, folded in front of you, in front of your. Tops of your legs or, or, or, or arms [00:03:30] folded, you know, looking across, and it's probably not gonna be clenching.
[00:03:32] Simon Bucknall: One elbow, you know, just maybe just arms down by the side, or maybe they're just gently resting just above your waist, but, Whether you're seated or standing, giving thought to what, what's my neutral gear? Like driving almost, you know, how would I sit or stand when I'm not moving? Because that's a safe haven.
[00:03:49] Simon Bucknall: It's a way of guaranteeing that you project composure even if you don't feel it. And, and that the tricky part about this, of course, is that what feels comfortable may [00:04:00] actually look a little anxious or distracted. Mm. What feels. Uncomfortable may look actually really quite good. Yeah. And it's worth testing out with people to see what actually works.
[00:04:11] Simon Bucknall: But once you've got that nailed, then it will guarantee you project composure even if you don't feel it for the rest of your career. And
[00:04:16] Maryam Pasha: you know what, we use the neutral stance with all our TEDx speakers. Mm-hmm. So when we get to the end of the coaching process, when they've written their talk, and now we're looking at delivery and presence on stage and how to, how to own like such a big space.
[00:04:29] Maryam Pasha: Um, [00:04:30] there's a lot of clenching of hands. Yes. You know, with knuckles going white. Yes. A lot of hands in pockets. A lot of not knowing what to do. And so we do the neutral stance with them quite a lot and exactly that. Like it's not about standing like a robot on stage. Right. It's neutral gear in a car. Yes.
[00:04:46] Maryam Pasha: It's the, the, the movement you move through to other movements. Yes, absolutely. Yes. I think it's just, it's just probably one of the most valuable pieces of, of, cuz there's a lot of mental stuff when it comes to nerves. Yes. But then you also want. One piece of like physical advice. Yeah. So you [00:05:00] can actually do, and I think that's really amazing.
[00:05:02] Maryam Pasha: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:05:02] Simon Bucknall: Um, and for you, top couple of top tips for handling, dealing with the nerves. Yes. The symptoms of adrenaline,
[00:05:09] Maryam Pasha: I should say. Well, one of them is very similar to yours around reframing. Mm-hmm. But I think about it quietly so differently, so, In that, I think that when you are saying, I feel nervous, you can actually reframe that to yourself as a different kind of feeling.
[00:05:23] Maryam Pasha: So I'm not saying you have to say, oh, I feel excited because sometimes people do that and if that works for you. But I actually mean [00:05:30] sometimes you're nervous because you really care about the thing you're going to say. And so can you change that and turn it into a little bit of a saying for yourself that says, I'm nervous cuz I care.
[00:05:39] Maryam Pasha: You know, nice. I feel like that's because I care. Um, I've had speakers do it in lots of different ways, so I'm nervous because I care. I'm, you know, it's not gonna be that bad. What's the worst that could happen? You know, for me, with what I told you earlier with feeling like that before we go on stage, for me it's like, oh, here we go again.
[00:05:56] Maryam Pasha: Right? Yes. So whatever it is, so that you stop saying, I feel so [00:06:00] nervous, and you start saying what you actually think yes about it. And that reframe can be just something that you repeat yourself and it gets quite calming. The second thing I would say actually is around the audience. You mentioned this earlier, but I wanna dig into this point.
[00:06:15] Maryam Pasha: With very, very few exceptions, your audience is not made out of, made up of psychopaths, right? Like people are not sitting there hoping that you bomb, like they're not hoping and wishing that you [00:06:30] fail, and that you do a terrible job and start crying and run off stage. That's, I think not because they're just all wonderful kind people, although they may probably are, I think it's because they're actually quite selfish.
[00:06:41] Maryam Pasha: Right. They're there listening to you for whatever context that that be formal or informal, and they wanna feel like they're also having a good experience of it. Yes. Right? And so they are willing for you to do well. No one wants you to fail. Right. No one is sitting there hoping that you can't remember your lions and that, you [00:07:00] know, thinking, oh, what an idiot if they forget something or stumble.
[00:07:04] Maryam Pasha: Um, and actually most, most, 99% of audiences are super empathetic. They think, oh, this, I couldn't do this. If I was, if I was you. And I think actually remembering the way that it's worked for people is think about how you are when you are sitting in the audience listening to someone, are you thinking, can't wait till this person trips over and fall.
[00:07:26] Maryam Pasha: No. Right. So it's that same reminding [00:07:30] yourself what it's like to be listening. As well. Love it. So to summarize, here's four ways you can handle your nerves. First, be kind to yourself. You're allowed to experience being nervous. There's nothing wrong with it. Second, nail your neutral stance. This is how you sit or stand when you're not moving.
[00:07:48] Maryam Pasha: This is a great way to guarantee that you project. Composure, even when you don't feel it. Third, mentally reframe your nerves as excitement. Tell yourself, I'm excited to speak, not I'm scared to speak. [00:08:00] Remember, you're speaking because you care. And finally, remember that your audience is rooting for you.
[00:08:05] Maryam Pasha: The huge majority of audiences are actually super empathetic. They don't want you to fail. Thanks for listening to this speechless soundbite. Until next time, speak less.