Facilitation Skills

7 Strategies to manage nerves and boost confidence when teaching online

October 21, 2022

I can't believe it took me 10 years to read this book. I feel so seen! Yay to harnessing the quiet power of the introvert.

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I'm Sarah, The Learning Strategist and Catalyst. I'm here to help you create high quality workshops, courses, and programmes that get results.  

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You’ve done the prep work. You’ve put the finishing touches to your slide deck. The sign-ups are increasing. The tech is ready and tested…

So, why are you feeling so nervous? 

Well, as Mark Twain said: 

“There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars” 

And the same could be said about teachers! 

It’s normal to be nervous when you’re about to teach a masterclass, facilitate a workshop, jump on Zoom for your first group coaching call or even record your slides for your online course.

You don’t need to fight the nerves. You just need to manage them so you can run a brilliant session that engages your clients, has lots of learning, and gets results. 

If you’re ready to learn how to feel and look more confident when teaching,  here are 7 strategies to help. 

1. Visualise a brilliant session

 Imagine yourself in flow – effortlessly engaging with your students, sharing your knowledge with confidence, asking and answering questions with ease, and the space buzzing with ‘aha’ moments. This creative visualisation will boost your self-confidence and help you eliminate any nerves you may be feeling. 

2.  Stand up

 If you’re presenting online, you might be tempted to ‘teach’ from your desk. However, it’s much easier to create positive energy and a higher vibe when standing up. This has a positive impact on engagement with students and also your confidence levels. 

Stand with your feet hip distance apart and really feel the contact with the floor. Put your shoulders back, let your arms fall loosely by your side, and take a few deep breaths. This allows you to remain more grounded and project confidence and strength when you’re speaking. 

3. Breathe

 Before you start your session, breathe deeply for a minute or two. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm your nerves. 

Breathing deeply and calmly will also help with your voice. When we get nervous, the breath becomes more shallow and we can speak from our throat area which can sound less confident. 

When we breathe deeply, the tone of voice is deeper and more resonant, which portrays confidence and competence. 

4. Smile

The mere act of smiling can trick the body into becoming happy – releasing feel good chemicals that help to fight off stress. And, it has the added bonus of helping you connect with your students. Win-win! 

 5. Hydrate 

 Some studies show that being dehydrated can increase the stress hormone cortisol! So drinking water will not only help your voice when you’re teaching (keeping that confident and resonant tone) but it will keep your stress levels down too! 

6. Slow down your speech

 When we’re nervous, we tend to speak more rapidly which in turn can make us even more nervous. It can also be disconcerting for your audience, who might end up focusing on that feeling rather than what you’re saying. 

A great way to practise this is to notice the natural rhythm of your speech when you’re doing different activities, for example, when you’re out walking, in nature, or speaking with friends and family. Notice when you feel most relaxed. This is the speed and the rhythm that will help you to feel most confident. Practise tuning into this and dialling up and down your speed, as this will give you greater control when you’re teaching.  

7. It’s not about you! 

When working with clients who are struggling with nerves and fear about presenting, facilitating and teaching, they often say things like:

  • I’m scared, what if people laugh or judge?
  • I hate my voice/body/face/hair …
  • I’m not interesting/clever/confident/knowledgeable enough
  • I freeze when I’m in the spotlight
  • I’m rubbish at talking to groups

And my response (said with love) is always, it’s not about you! It’s about your clients.

What do they need to hear from you? How can you help them? What can you teach them?

Think about what you want them to think and feel at the end of your session and focus on that.

You’re great at what you do. People have signed up to your ‘thing’ because they want to hear what you have to say. They want to learn from you – yes, YOU! 

So get out there, apply these 7 strategies, and be brilliant!  

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