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Why the word ‘nervous’ should be banned


how body language impacts public speaking

There is a difference between nerves and adrenaline. Feeling nervous has negative connotations, whereas feeling adrenaline is beneficial. It helps us to perform. You’d never catch an athlete saying they felt nervous before a race; it’s always adrenaline they feel, and they use it to their advantage. That is why the word ‘nervous’ should be banned.

nervous: 1 easily frightened or worried. 2 apprehensive or anxious: he’s nervous of speaking in public. 3 relating to the nerves.*

adrenaline: a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that increases rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism.

I teach my presentation skills coaching clients to:

1) Tackle their fear of presenting (I teach them to ‘tame their monkeys!’)

2) Never feel nervous about speaking again. They may, and should, feel adrenaline at a big event (or ‘butterflies’ as some people refer to it) but never again nervous.

So if you haven’t yet ‘tamed your monkeys’ then find out how here. If you’ve already done it, or are a confident speaker, then stop perpetuating the myth! Please don’t be one of the many people who insist they feel nervous before public speaking.

Imagine if we thought about that feeling we have in our tummies before we go on stage for what it is: public speaking monkeys + hormones pumping through our bodies. Good hormones. Hormones that will help us to perform better.

Putting a positive spin on these feelings helps the clients I mentor massively. Saying you have nerves seems to send people on a downward spiral. Even the word nervous makes us more anxious. It conjures images of nervous breakdowns, nervous wrecks or nerve-racking situations – nothing positive.

So what do you say we ditch being nervous, tame our public speaking monkeys and then we can embrace our good friend adrenaline? I promise you, it’ll work wonders for your public speaking.

*Even the Oxford English Dictionary uses public speaking as the best example to illustrate nerves.

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