Got Butterflies? We all do. The trick is to master them.


Tip # 1: Know the Room

  • Be familiar with the place where you will speak.
  • Arrive early, walk around the speaking area.
  • Practice using the microphone and visual aids.


Tip #2: Know the Audience

  • It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
  • Ask the meeting organizer for some names of participants and call them beforehand.
  • Greet some of the audience as they arrive.
  • Do your homework – Study the group’s purpose and goals.


Tip #3: Know Your Material

  • Be familiar or comfortable with your material. If you need to write out and read it aloud, do so.
  • Practice your speech several times. Make note cards for the places where you pause or stumble.
  • Practice ideas not words. Write out quotes and stats if you need them.
  • Say your speech silently to yourself at first. Then practice out loud in front of the mirror.
  • If it’s too long or short, revise it. Practice it twice more and time yourself.
  • Use a tape recorder, camcorder or VCR and play it back. Visualize yourself as your audience.
  • Add improvements gradually – don’t try to fix it all at once.


Tip # 4: Relax

  • Ease tension by doing exercises. Systematically tighten and release the major muscle groups. This can actually be done discretely in a sitting position. Tighten your stomach, lower back and buttocks muscles, count to three and release. Repeat two to three more times.
  • Stretching, Arm circles, Neck roll (but not in front of your audience, please!) One DTM Toastmaster stretches her legs out under the table, counts to five, and then pulls them in. She does this slowly several times.
  • Practice Deep Breathing. Inhale with the diaphragm (stomach). Hold a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth or nose. Repeat three times


Tip #5: Visualize Yourself Giving Your Speech

Mental Rehearsal- Close your eyes and play out your successful speech in your mind. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be more successful.

Tip #6: Realize That People Want You to Succeed

Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail.

Tip #7: Don’t Apologize

  • Don’t mention any nervousness – the audience may not have noticed.
  • Never apologize for any problems you have with your speech.
  • If there are problems, keep silent and move on– Your audience will sense that you are in command.


Tip #8: Concentrate On the Message, Not the Medium

  • It’s not about you – it is about your message.
  • Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and toward your message and your audience. If you believe in what you are saying, they will, too.
  • Make eye contact with your audience and smile. Have your eyes travel around the room, occasionally landing on one person for a second or two and then move on.
  • Your nervousness will dissipate once your audience is attentive.


Tip #9: Turn Nervousness Into Positive Energy

  • Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.
  • Use that energy to move purposely using the whole stage as your platform and use broad gestures.
  • Use vocal variety – pitch, volume and rate.
  • Learn to use silence (pauses) to add effectiveness.

Tip #10: Gain Experience

Remember the Butterflies? Get Them to Fly In Formation!

Don Griffith

Arizona Toastmasters