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6 Must-Avoid Signs That You're Nervous When You're Public Speaking

Are you nervous for presentations?
Nervous about Public Speaking?

What are the 6 Signs That You're Nervous When Public Speaking?

You’re going to get nervous. Everyone does. I do, and I really enjoy public speaking. It’s normal for your heart-rate to rise, your skin to get a bit sweaty and your mind to become a bit foggy too. It’s all perfectly normal. Signs of nervousness are natural. There’s something at stake.

However, as normal and natural as they are, they give off the signal that you’re not confidence. And other people buy confidence. If you want to impact and influence your audience, then you need to avoid these 6 signs that you’re nervous when you’re public speaking or giving a presentation.


A social faux pas that I struggled with as a young man and was often scolded by my girlfriend’s American family members. They said it was a lack of respect to avoid eye contact. Actually, it was just social anxiety, I was nervous about being around such confident people.

But it’s true that the absence of eye contact speaks very loudly that you aren’t confident. If you want to convince people that you are confident and not as nervous as you feel, you need to make eye contact with the audience. Maybe just one or two people, but don’t avoid eye contact, it’s perceived as a sign of weakness.


Something inside us says that if we speak really quickly, it will be over quickly. But when we speak quickly, we become almost impossible to understand. When we get nervous, we speak at about the same speed that our heart beats. So if that ticker is pumping fast, then your mouth is going faster.

Slow down. Go sentence by sentence. Remember, you’re not trying to rush through the material, you’re actually trying to influence the listener with what you say and how you say it. If you go too quickly, that is also having an impact on the audience too.


Some of us are furniture magnets. The moment we get nervous, we attach ourselves to a piece of furniture and latch onto it and stick to the spot. Others, fidget and fiddle, with the notes, with the lectern, with whatever we can. Fidgeting and fiddling are signs that you’re nervous. To avoid them, think about your arms and hands supporting the message that you’re sending. Your gestural system should support your mental intention. Does your body join in? You may have to practice allowing your body to support you.


It’s amazing how hoarse we get when we’re nervous. In truth, our heartbeat is pounding, we’re overheating, our throat is getting dryer and our throat muscles are getting tighter and tenser with every minute.

If you’re nervous, you may find yourself clearing your throat a lot. I had a professor in college who did it constantly when lecturing, but never did it in real life. The truth was he was an excellent researcher, but a terrified lecturer and it was a nervous habit. And it drove us all nuts.

Stay hydrated and reduce the stress to avoid this sign that you’re nervous when you’re public speaking.


Nervous people laugh. When you’re trying to make a confident, positive impression on your audience, laughing will often undermine you. It doesn’t look like you are having a fun relaxed good time, it looks like you’re not taking it seriously.

If you have to present for work, then you don’t want to be accused of not taking your job seriously. Or what if you’re presenting about esophageal cancer?

Breathe. Smile. Breath and shake off the stress. Laughter makes you look nervous. Smile instead. But not too crazy


It’s similar to struggling with eye contact, but a natural fear of looking the audience in the eye can extend to getting stuck with your head down, with your head entirely in the notes.

I’ve seen so many people do this, and they weren’t even aware of it. Of course, it makes you look distracted, like you’ve forgotten there’s an audience to pay attention to! It disconnects you from the very people that you’re trying to build a connection with.

Your visual impact matters, these six signs that you’re nervous when you speaking in public will reduce the impression and impact you make, killing the influence you have over them.


AUTHOR: Public Speaking Coach Mark Westbrook



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