I’ve been speaking in church since I was 16, and I still get nervous before giving a sermon, some times more than others. Here are some tips that have helped me cope with the pre-sermon jitters:
1. Remind yourself that you belong to the congregation. They love you, and they know you will do well. They’re pulling for you.
2. It’s not about you or your ego needs. The sermon is about allowing God to speak in order to help the congregation. When you’re consumed with yourself, you can’t serve the needs of the congregation.
3. Be humble. You won’t mess up as badly as you think you might, and even if you did, at least you are willing to preach. Most people are deathly afraid of public speaking or would only do it for the attention.
4. Pray for the congregation during the week leading up to your sermon that God will speak clearly to them (and to you) in your sermon. This will keep your focus off of you.
5. Do jumping jacks in your office before the service to release energy.
6. Go to the bathroom immediately before the worship service to release all the coffee you’ve already had that morning.
7. Take a couple of sips of water before you preach but not during your sermon.
8. While you’re sitting just before you preach, press your feet down toward the floor, like you’re pushing the floor down, to release more energy.
9. Take deep breaths immediately before standing to preach to relax yourself.
10. Preach as often as you can. Preaching more than once per month makes each sermon easier because you get used to being in front of the congregation. Preaching gets easier with frequency.
11. If you have preached before, remember the times you preached in the past and how God made something good come out of it.
12. Listen to at least part of a sermon that inspires you and fits your style in the car on the way to the church building.
13. Visualize yourself preaching with passion and energy. If you are moved by your subject matter, preaching it will come easier to you (See “Preaching Sermons that People Remember“.)
14. Be prepared. Practice your sermon. Know what you’re going to say, and this alone will eliminate a lot of nervousness.
15. There is nothing wrong with having your notes or sermon manuscript nearby in case you need them. Just try to know your message so well that you don’t need to look at them.
16. Remember that being nervous actually makes you a better preacher. You’re more energetic and exciting to listen to when you’re nervous.