Author: Ron Graham

Training to Teach and Preach

The Cure for Pulpit Nerves
—Shake off the shakes

Pulpit nerves are caused by two glands, one on top of each kidney. They are called “adrenals”. Their function is to respond to fear by charging the blood stream with hormones that prepare the body for fight or flight. Since one cannot fight or flee in the pulpit, the hormones cause various uncomfortable symptoms. You can control this problem and shake off the shakes when you're up front.


Thoroughly familiarize yourself with your subject. Prepare manageable notes. This reduces fear and the chemical charge you have to cope with.


Experience also reduces fear. You'll be pleased to know, however, that the experience does not have to be real; it can be imagined or vizualized. Pretend you are addressing an audience. If possible, stand in the actual pulpit and talk to the empty seats. Such imagined experience will trigger and tame adrenal reaction.


Get your attention off yourself and onto your message. Thinking about your nervousness distracts attention from your lesson: you make mistakes, nervousness increases. Thinking about your message makes you do a better job which reduces nervousness.


You can't run. You can't fight. But you don't have to stand still like a stone statue. Natural body movements help dissipate the "adrenalin".

5. "OOMPH".

Use up "adrenalin" constructively by channeling it into your delivery force. By putting "oomph" into your speech, you'll be seen as sincere, not as in fear.