Hot tips for handling nerves

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6 July 2016
Written by Speak First Linked-in icon


Often, nerves and a lack of confidence can be the main thing holding us back, particularly when speaking in public or attending an interview. While a certain level of nerves can be useful to keep us alert, they can also hamper our performance. Here are some simple tips you can try to conquer those nerves:

Breathe deeply

This may sound simple but we recommend you give this one a try. It’s physically impossible to feel nervous when taking long deep breaths. Breathing deeply is a great strategy for helping you to feel resourceful in the moment when you feel those butterflies start to appear.


Shake out the stress
We all tend to hold a certain amount of stress in our bodies. Stress increases when we’re feeling anxious. A quick way to release this is to literally shake it out of your body. Shake your hands and legs. Visualize the excess energy leaving your body. Rotate your shoulders. Squeeze your ‘glutes’ together then relax your bum to let go of any surplus tension. ‘Wiggle’ and move any part of your body that feels tense.
Prepare thoroughly
When we feel nervous it is often a signal to let us know that we’re not as fully prepared to face the situation as we might like. Accept and acknowledge the gift hidden in the anxiety and take action. Work out what still needs to be done for you to feel in control and able to handle what comes your way.
Visualise success

If you have something coming up such as a presenting at a conference picture yourself achieving success. Hear that round of applause. See those smiling faces. What ever the situation you’re facing creating a movie in your mind of it accomplished will increase your chances of success and soothe your jagged nerves.

Acting as if

When we ‘act as if’ we’re confident – walking tall, shoulders back, making eye contact – our bodies send a signal to the brain. The message conveyed is “I am demonstrating confidence” and this is interpreted by our unconscious minds as “I must BE confident”.


Smiling floods your body with feel good endorphins. Even if you’re really tense we recommend you give this one a go. Like breathing deeply and ‘acting as if’ a genuine smile changes your inner emotional state in no time at all.

Ultimately there’s no substitute for experiential training if you want to develop confidence in a range of situations. Speak First offers a number of courses that address this issue, including a two-day Confident Presenter course, Developing Personal Impact and Assert Yourself with Confidence.