Stop Worrying: 5 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before Your Next Message or Presentation

Chances are you have to give a message or presentation in the next month.

And chances are you’re already nervous about it.

No matter how long you’ve been speaking or how often you do it, almost all of us get nervous before we speak.

I was texting with a friend recently, and he mentioned he was suffering ‘the usual nerves’ because he had to speak Sunday at his church.

He’s an amazing communicator God has used to speak to thousands of people again and again. All I could think of was “you always do such a great job…why are you nervous?”

But it’s just a reminder that for most of us, including me, the fear never entirely goes away. After all, fear of public speaking is allegedly the #1 fear people experience.

Even though the fear doesn’t entirely go away, the fear doesn’t have to be debilitating. And it certainly doesn’t have to be destructive.

In fact, using a few simple strategies, you can learn to manage it and maybe even make it work in your favour.



First A Little Theology

Of all the directions issued in scripture, one of the most common is simple “Do not be afraid.”

I need to hear that all the time. Fear often stands in the way of faith. And somewhere in that dialogue between God or an angel and people is misplaced confidence.

I might always be asking “Do I have what it takes”, but the real question is not whether I have what it take, but whether God does.

Often the difference between an effective leader and an ineffective leader is the difference between someone who pushes through their fear and someone who succumbs to it.

Clearly God expects to experience fear (otherwise telling people to not be afraid makes no sense); he just encourages you to push through it.

The question is how do you do it?


5 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before You Speak

Naturally, you want to pray and trust God. And I’m just going to assume you’re going to do that. But what practical strategies can get you through your fear and on into the message you need to deliver?

When I follow these 5 practices, I find my fear becomes far more manageable, and the little bit that’s left just gives me an edge that is actually helpful, not harmful. It pushes you to do better.


If You’re the Leader, You’re the Lid (And 3 Things You Can Do About It)

Today, a really simple—but powerful—principle.

If you’re the leader, you’re the lid.

I know I’d rather pretend that’s not true, but it is.

Here’s what it means:

Over time, the team and organization you lead will never grow past where you’ve grown.

If you stop growing in an area, people who want to grow past that point will simply find another leader to follow.

So this just makes me nervous. As a leader, I set limits that impact others.

How do you overcome it?

It’s Everywhere

As much as you and I would like to pretend that we’re not the lid as leaders, the truth takes us elsewhere.

Your lid operates in every area of your life and leadership. As a leader, you become the organization lid






And on the list goes….

People who want to grow past where you’ve grown will move on.

So how do you keep growing?


3 Ways to Remove Your Lid

So what do you do about it? Three things have consistently helped me grow:


12 Ways Selfish Ambition Damages a Leader’s Soul (And How to Tell If It’s An Issue For You)

If you’re like me (and like most people), you find selfishness in other people to be a real turn off.

But if we’re honest, very few of us are naturally self-less. Every day, I fight selfishness.

If you’re driven and even a little bit ambitious like I am, you have to be doubly careful.


Because when selfishness and ambition move into the same room together the combination is deadly.

Left undealt with, selfish ambition will harm:

Your family

Your faith

Your team

Your character

And almost everything else in your life.

So you have to deal with it. Ruthlessly.

The reality is most of us aren’t exactly sure how selfish we are.

How can you know? Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult to find out.


It Starts Innocently Enough

Most of us secretly want to be better known, valued and appreciated than we are.  That’s not entirely bad, and it’s part of a natural human longing that comes from our sin and desire for a restored relationship with God, others and even ourselves.

For some of us, the desire to be known or appreciated extends only to a wider relational circle.

For others, it’s more public.  We long to be better known in our ministry, in our company, to see our product selling, our album get recorded, our blog get traction or to find ourselves thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook friends.

If we were to pry behind the secret motivation…we think that would make us feel ‘successful’…as though we matter.

I know I’ve struggled with this over the years.

When I was starting out in ministry, I wanted to be that guy who spoke at conferences and was well respected as a leader in ministry. I never talked about that kind of thing publicly or privately, but if you were to gain access to my sinful mind, the thought spun around  in my head from time to time.


God 1, Me 0 (How God Snapped My Will)

Then in a season of my life over a decade ago, God wrestled that down.  Well, that’s putting it nicely.  He snapped my ambition.

He took me to a place where I realized that as much as I didn’t want to admit it even to myself, much of my motivation was selfish and not God-honouring.  I finally surrendered it to him after a painful wrestling match.

In my struggles with God, God brought me to a point where I could see myself serving as an effective pastor in the middle of nowhere without ever anyone knowing who I was. I didn’t really want that definition of success. But I embraced it anyway.

As best I could, I surrendered my ambition to God. I gave in. (Kind of foolish that we resist giving into God, isn’t it? But we do.)

I’m so grateful I had that painful encounter with God.

Left unchecked, selfish ambition turns servants of God into servants of themselves.


12 Ways Selfish Ambition Damages a Leader’s Soul (And What Happens When You Give It Up)

I’ve come to enjoy the slow death of selfish ambition in my life.  It’s not complete, but it’s in progress. Here’s what I’m learning and (now) loving about the difference.

These 12 things are true when you’re motivated by selfish ambition:


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