Public speaking nerves

By Sue Palmer

I’m wondering how many of us get nervous public speaking, or in fact, how many simply don’t ever speak in public because of nerves?  And what tips people have to overcome it?

Last week I was privileged to speak at an event where the speaker after me was none other than Olympian William Fox-Pitt (who seems like a really lovely man, and who gave a great talk about the horses in his life, lots of fascinating insights!).  Before me was Ellie Bradsell (, who really got the crowd going!

I’d planned carefully to the point where I could speak without any notes.  I gave a practical based talk, getting the audience to do an exercise themselves so that they could feel the muscle spasm / weakness / restriction in range of movement, explaining how they might assess for that on their horse, and then giving an exercise that might help address each.  I picked three different areas to cover, and was really pleased with how the audience interacted (including William Fox-Pitt!).

I give talks fairly regularly now, perhaps once a month or so, and I always enjoy them.  The trouble is that there isn’t time in the diary to fit more in right now, especially because of the travelling, so we’re hoping to offer more online in the future.  This is the first time in a long time though that I’ve got really nervous.  It seemed to hit me a couple of hours before the event that I was talking in such esteemed company, and somehow that seemed to make a really big difference.

So my question to you is – what tips do you have to help me get over this if it happens again (or to help anyone else suffering from a similar problem)?  I’m a ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ kind of person, so it won’t put me off, and normally I’d throw myself in the deep end and just do more and more until I was comfortable doing it.  Clearly though I can’t get out every week to give a talk to a couple of hundred people, so is there anything I can do?!

Thanks in advance!


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