"How do I get over being so nervous when I speak?"
Ah, the age-old question. There isn't a presentation coach in the world who doesn't get asked how to combat nerves.
In almost every case, it's the wrong question to ask. MOST people are nervous speaking in front of groups. Many famous actors and singers have spoken openly about the fact that they get tremendous stage fright before going on stage. You may NEVER get to the point where you don't feel nervous.
So the real question needs to shift from "how do I avoid feeling nervous" to "how do I present effectively even though I feel nervous?"
Nobody ever wants to hear the best and most effective strategy. It's simple… You practice over and over and over until you know exactly what you are going to do, what you are going to say, how you are going to emphasize key points, when you are going to reference key data or visuals. Athletes refer to this as "developing muscle memory." A golfer trying to sink the winning putt on the last hole in front of a huge gallery (with millions more watching on television) is nervous as hell. He or she relies on letting the body complete the motions it has gone through time after time.
Actors, singers, and monologists rehearse and rehearse before you ever see them. That lets them go through the motions of their performance even though they might be shaking in fear before the curtain goes up.
The TEDx Talk page outlines a sample timeline for speakers that starts first rehearsals four months before the talk date! Two months out, rehearsals are bi-weekly. One month out, rehearsals are weekly. Then more rehearsals. Then more.
I will be the first to admit that this is overkill for all but the most critical of public performances. But the underlying concept is solid. The more comfortable you are with your content and how you present it, the less it matters that you happen to feel nervous. You can perform in the presence of nerves because you have developed "muscle memory" of your delivery. I remain astonished at how many webinar presenters fail to even do one complete word-for-word run through of their presentation before the public air date.
I want to clarify one important point in this analogy. You have an advantage over Adele or Barbra Streisand or Laurence Olivier (famous stage fright sufferers). You don't have to memorize every word you plan to say, every lyric of a song, every stage movement. Sure, work with a script in your early rehearsals if it makes you feel more comfortable. Then throw it away for your live presentation. Don't try to memorize your speech. You will forget something and it will throw you into a panic. Speak conversationally. You will know your topic, you will know what you wanted to say about it. You will remember some key phrases just by dint of having said them in your rehearsals. But you won't freeze up when you forget one word in the middle of a sentence.
But that's not what you were hoping for, is it? Rehearsals are too much work… Too boring… Too time-consuming. You are a busy person tapped to do one webinar. You just want a simple device - a trick to help settle the butterflies in your stomach. How about the old "visualize the audience in their underwear?" Does that work?
No, it doesn't.
I can only give you two pieces of "quick 'n dirty" advice. The first is well tested and proven in stressful situations of all sorts. Practice five minutes of regulated, intentional breathing before your presentation. Breathe in for at least four seconds. Hold for at least four seconds. Breathe out for at least four seconds. Hold for at least four seconds. Repeat. This has an incredible calming effect on the body.
The second piece of advice comes from "The King and I" by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Follow the lyrics from "Whistle A Happy Tune" and ask yourself how a brave and confident person would behave in this situation. Then fake it. Pretend you're calm and it often comes across as if you really are!
Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows
The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people I fear
I fool myself as well
I whistle a happy tune
And every single time
The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that I'm
Make believe you're brave
And the trick will take you far
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are