Lesson 8: Nerves

Nerves are totally normal. No risk no reward. Its all apart of the thrill!

Here’s how to beat them!

Storytelling Education - Lesson 8

Pre-performance & Pre-event Nerves

Lesson 8 of our education series is designed to help you understand and deal with pre-event nerves. We will discuss who gets them, why and how to feel good about it!


To start off, it is important to understand that everyone gets nerves, even those who are well practiced. It never really lessens, just your confidence improves. Think about this professional speakers get nerves. Its normal!

Now think about this. When you are competing as an athlete in a race, you have just spent the last 2-3 months plus training for this specific event. And guess what!? so have all your competition. Everyone has been training as hard as possible, dealing with the time pressure, the stress, the hunger and fatigue, just to get to the point of starting.

No matter what, the last hour before the race starts is prue nerves. Uncomfortable, jitter, anxious nerves. That’s not even to talk about the night before the race. Your mind can’t escape it, you barely sleep and to top it off the nerves kill your appetite and you have to tactically force yourself to eat what you think you can keep down.

This is normal.

Countering the anxiety

This is how you deal with it.


You may not know this, but a race is really won or lost in the 6 months preceding. It is the training and preparation that give you the basis for performance. This is the same for any form of public speaking. If you don’t prepare, no matter how much you try on the day, you ain’t going to do well!

This means you need to prepare and have everything square and tight. You must practice! You must practice regularly so it is natural and easy when you have to perform.

The more realistic the preparation the better.


Routine allows you to automate and familiarise a large portion of variables so that your mind is free to focus on the important things. It also prevents stress from disorganisation and unpredictable circumstances.

This means planning out what you do and when, where you put things and contingency plans incase unforeseeable circumstances occur.

A short list would include things such as:

  • When you go to bed
  • What you eat pre-event and the day before
  • Any consumption of fluids
  • Any pre-event de-stressing activities
  • What you will wear, plus any change of clothes
  • How you will store and transport any extra belongings
  • Your timings, when you leave, how early you arrive, etc.
  • When you will go to the toilet
  • Snacks to have ready
  • Contacts for unforseen circumstances

Metal state

These are imperative for success. Use one or all.

  • Reframe any nerves as excitement, remind yourself how excited you are to be here, able to do this! Its awesome, what an opportunity!
  • Remind yourself of your preparation. Trust it. Trust yourself.
  • Deep breath and count your breaths, 1 in and 2 out, 3 in and 4 out. Count up to 10 and keep repeating.
  • Positive self talk.
  • Think about how good the end is going to feel!
  • Posture – assume a powerful and relaxed posture. If you dont feel it, the act it! You’re the boss, you’re ready for this. Great.
  • Steel you mind. Set it. You decided to do this. Now you are going to do it.


In Lesson 8, we have introduced aspects of story craft and have covered:

Create a plan to deal with nerves

Work out what helps you.

Remove likely hood of stressful situations with excellent organisation and contingency planning.

Learn relaxation techniques. Practice visualisation.

Practice creates confidence

The more you practice telling a story the more comfortable it becomes. Video and perform in front of friends and family.