What to Do If Speaking to a Large Crowd Makes you Nervous (Speak Masterfully Tip #1)

Welcome back to our on-going blog series:

"Don't Picture Them in Their Underwear: 5 Uncreepy Strategies to Calm Yourself Before Public Speaking"

Let’s start out our 1st week of Speak Masterfully Speaking Tips with a brazenly simple suggestion:

If you know you struggle with speaking to a crowd of people, then don’t speak to a crowd of people.

Speak to one person.

Imagine you have a good friend sitting in the back row—someone nonjudgemental. The kind of friend you’d have no problem inviting over even if your place were a mess. Make this a private conversation between the two of you. 

Allow your eyes to take in the whole room, but keep the intention of a private conversation. Focus in on the one or two people smiling and nodding.

Not only will speaking to one person calm your nerves, it will create a feeling of intimacy with the audience.

Apply this advice to the writing of your piece as well as the delivery. To quote James Joyce, “In the particular is contained the universal.”

The best way to ensure your talk is broadly impactful is to write and deliver it to a specific person.

That’s how you get a room of 200 people all to think, “It’s like they’re talking directly to me!”

Public speaking is really pretty simple. (Notice, I didn’t say it’s EASY.)

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be delving into some more complex strategies for calming your nerves and nailing your talk, but I always think there’s value in starting with the simplest solution.

So that’s what I’ll leave you with for now!   

Tune in next week for Tip #2 and learn the steps of the warm-up I prescribe to all my public speaking clients.



FIRST TIMER TIP: Skip the imagining part! Actually invite a friend to your first couple speaking engagements. Put them somewhere in the crowd you can easily find them regardless of the lighting situation, and let your eyes return to them any time you start to feel that heart-rate rise.

Photograph of Sara Glancy on stairs
Headshot by Jessica Osber.

Sara Glancy is an NYC-based actor and public speaking coach and the founder of Speak Masterfully, a service that helps professionals take the stage with less fear and more fun! 

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Apply this basic outline to any speaking engagement to feel twice as prepared in half the time

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Apply this basic outline to any speaking engagement to feel twice as prepared in half the time

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