Turning Nervousness Into Excitement

Speaker Nation’s top tips for moving past your nervousness and getting excited the next time you step on stage.

Speaker Nation
4 min readMar 4, 2021


Do you ever get nervous before you have to give a presentation? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably yes.

There is usually a time before it’s your turn to speak where your heartbeat might start to increase, your breathing usually gets a bit faster, you might get butterflies in your stomach, your palms get a little sweaty…

Most speakers feel those physiological symptoms and immediately decide it’s because they are nervous. Elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, butterflies in the stomach, and sweaty palms are all symptoms of nervousness. But could they be symptoms of something else, too?

Think about it for a minute. When you get those kinds of feelings in your body, is it always because you’re nervous? Or is there another emotion that feels the same way?

Excitement! The answer is excitement. When you get really excited about something, your heart rate usually goes up, your breathing gets a bit quicker, your stomach starts to flutter, and your palms might even get a bit sweaty.

The point is, on a physiological level, nervousness and excitement feel pretty much exactly the same. The difference is how we think about those feelings and the event that is causing them. The only real difference between nervousness and excitement is the expected outcome.

If you expect your talk to go badly, then of course you feel nervous. But if you know your material, have been working on your skills, and are an avid Speaker Nation follower, why would you expect your talk to go badly? You have every reason to expect your talk to go well, and when you head into it with a positive expectation, those feelings you get in your body before you take the stage are really just excitement.

Nervousness = Excitement + Negative Expectations

Excitement = Nervousness + Positive Expectations

Now that you know this, the question is how do you control the nervousness and make sure you are only feeling excitement?

It all starts in your mind. Most speakers have a bit of a mental movie that plays in their minds when they think about how their talk is going to go, and the mood of that mental movie really forms the basis of how they feel about their talk.

The speakers who get nervous before a talk generally have their mental movies directed by someone like Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick. They imagine everything that could possibly go wrong, they worry about the audience not liking them, or their message not coming across the way they intend it to, and they envision themselves “bombing” their presentation.

On the other hand, the speakers who get excited have mental movies about their talk that are directed more in the style of Disney. They imagine the audience loving what they have to say, they imagine how much transformation the audience will go through when they hear the message, they imagine a standing ovation…

The point is, it all comes down to what you think about in the time leading up to your talk. Positive expectations will help you feel excited about your talk, while negative ones will lead to nervousness. The physiology of both feelings is the same, and you have control over the psychology of them.

Positive expectations will help you feel excited about your talk, while negative ones will lead to nervousness.

All that being said, stage fright can still be a major issue for some people; we totally understand. To help you overcome your stage fright, we have created a more detailed guide that you can have for FREE!

Click here to access “The Five Steps to Overcoming Stage Fright”



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