1.3 Handling Nerves

Most public speakers say that they feel most nervous just before they begin to talk and during the first 5 minutes or so, and then things get much easier. During your preparation it is worth considering how you will handle your own anxieties and nerves. What are your symptoms? You need to learn how to hide these symptoms and pretend to be more confident. For example, do your hands shake? Then avoid holding your notes in your hand! Does your mouth go dry? Remember to bring a bottle of water along. Often by finding ways of controlling the symptoms, you will find that you are no longer feeling quite so anxious.

Indeed some of the affects of the extra adrenalin you feel are a good thing and will help you to improve your presentation. However, nerves do need controlling and you may like to consider how to be "kind to yourself," for instance, by using the many active learning techniques described in this handbook. If your mouth goes dry, take a glass of water in the room with you. If you fear that your mind may go blank, make 'user-friendly' notes with key terms and prompts in bold or in different colours. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly if you feel panicky. Know yourself and plan to help yourself when you feel most ill at ease.

Another way to avoid stumbling due to nerves is to prove a brief structure or list of the topics that will be touched on in the class. This gives the class teacher a few minutes to get accustomed to addressing the class before embarking on a detailed explanation while simultaneously guiding the GTA as well.