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By Susan Harrow

One of the most common questions I get from clients and workshop participants is: “I always get shaky and nervous before any kind of business conversation — whether I’m trying to get a client to hire me, in a job interview, or trying to talk about my work in the media … pretty much anywhere! Any tips on how to calm down + appear more confident?”

Excellent question.

When we humans feel ‘shaky’ and ‘nervous,’ our instinct is to over-prepare.

We think we need to do more research, memorize more notes and pack more information into our spiel.

But that’s actually very stressful — and rarely helpful.

The BEST thing to do when you’re feeling nervous is exactly the opposite — simplify, simplify, simplify.

Do + say less.

Rather than cramming like you’re getting ready for a high school calculus test, you want to re-discover the essence of what this conversation is about, in the first place.

You might begin by asking yourself two simple questions:

What does my audience / client / customer need most, right now?

And:

How can I help?

To give you a few examples …

What does my audience / client / customer / interviewer need most, right now?

  • Tips on how to lose weight, by the start of summer.
  • Meditation techniques to calm her nerves, on her wedding day.
  • A delicious new recipe for dinner, tonight.
  • A major shake-up in the way they think about parenting.
  • A personal or professional story that shows I have the skills they are seeking.

And:

How can I help?

  • By delivering those tips.
  • By doing a guided meditation, on the spot.
  • By demonstrating the recipe + offering a few surprising twists.
  • By telling a true story + challenging parents to do something differently.
  • By giving an example of how I would succeed in their workplace environment or culture.
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Photo credit: Mitchell Joyce

If you can answer those two questions for yourself, there’s really nothing more you need to do — other than follow-up with an offer to keep connecting with you!

And when you can focus on those two questions, you’ll feel a LOT less nervous, because you’ll know — if nothing else! — that you’re ready to be of service.

Of course, the BEST way to prevent shaky-voiced nervousness is to simplify your message + prepare your sound bites before you actually need them.

The more comfortable you get with your sound bites, the less you’ll sweat in the spotlight — and the more you will shine!

Ready to hone your sound bite skills and prepare ones that will yield results? This post will show you how.


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