Beating Nervousness In Public Speaking

Stephen Downes wrote up a useful and comprehensive guide for getting the most value from your experience at conferences. Halfway through, he offers a lovely note on nervousness:

One more tip: love your audience. I know that this may sound weird, but it really does work. When you love your audience, when your focus is on how well you can give your gift to them, everything else melts away. Just remember: they are there to hear you (if your a keynote, they actually invited you and paid your way – how could you not love them? How could you have any doubt that they really want to hear what you have to say?

Agreed. Before I go in front of a group, if I remind myself how much I love the work we do and the people we work with, I have a blast. If I focus on performance and the mechanics of public speaking, I’m a wreck.

Also. 1 John 4:18:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I agree about not getting hung up on mechanics and enjoy the moment. I tell folks that the audience is there for you and more than not will have their fingers crossed for you not their arms crossed against you.

  2. I remember hearing the pianist George Winston being interviewed about this subject of stage fright. His solution is the same, though he makes it his own: he walks onto the stage in a favored pair of socks (he never plays wearing shoes, so why not be as comfortable as possible while on stage) and he reminds himself of how much he loves sharing this music with people who are eager to hear it. He allows himself to get lost in the flow of the playing and thinks of the audience as being part of his support network.

    I’m not doing his words justice, but his overall idea of taking his own comfort into consideration while also remembering why he does what he loves made a deep impression on me.

    – Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)