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How to not be nervous for a presentation — 13 tips that work (really!)
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Why do I get nervous before presenting?
How not to be nervous when presenting, 5 techniques to control your nerves, quotes for inspiration, speak with confidence.
If you feel nervous or scared about talking to someone new, giving a speech, or being on stage, rest assured: you’re not alone.
Experiencing symptoms of performance anxiety like an increased heart rate, trembling hands, or excessive sweating is perfectly normal. In fact, people often fear public speaking . But the more you’re immersed in these types of situations, the more comfortable you’ll become .
We’ll explore how to not be nervous for a presentation and offer inspirational quotes to help you step out of your comfort zone.
Based on data from the National Social Anxiety Center, fear of public speaking is the most common phobia . The official term for this fear is glossophobia, colloquially termed stage fright.
Stage fright typically arises from the perception that when you're in front of a group of people, they'll judge you. The brain’s frontal lobe aids in memory, and when we’re stressed, increased stress hormones temporarily shut that region down . This is what causes us to freeze up and stop talking.
There’s nothing wrong with being nervous. We all have different social comfort zones, communication styles, and presentation skills. But we can expand and improve our skills if we’re cognitively flexible .
Cognitive flexibility plays a big role in our behavior and attitudes and impacts our performance. You can use your fears as a catalyst for growth and learning — including giving a great presentation.
The following techniques will help you shift your thinking from reactive to proactive to combat nerves throughout the presentation experience:
Before the presentation:
1. Know your topic
Don’t wing it when it comes to presenting any topic. The better you understand your subject matter, the more confident you’ll feel. You can answer questions right away and won’t have to rely on your notes.
If there are a few points or any information you think might arise during the presentation or Q&A, research it and become comfortable speaking to the subject.
Here are a few ways to study:
- Break down concepts onto notecards
- Practice answering questions (especially the hard ones you hope no one asks)
- Explain complex information to peers and colleagues
2. Be organized
Take time to thoroughly plan each aspect of the presentation. Often, that means designing PowerPoint slides or other visual aids like videos. Clarify with the organizer what format and technology you’ll be using.
If it’ll be virtual, get your background and room organized, too. This ensures the presentation will go smoothly, in turn reducing stress. Consider the following preparations:
- Invite your support network to the event
- Arrive early to set up tech and get comfortable in the space
- Practice timing your presentation with the time tracker you’ll use day-of
- Bring a water bottle and a snack
- Contact your manager or venue staff to discuss any accessibility or tech concerns
3. Practice, practice, practice
Whether you’re rehearsing in front of a mirror, family member, or pet, you can never practice enough. Ask for feedback about your body language , eye contact , and how loudly you project your voice.
If you’ll be giving the presentation on a video conference, record it on the platform to see how you look and sound.
4. Visualize your success
Thinking through possible outcomes is a great way to prepare — but it can also backfire on you. If you obsess over negative what-ifs, this failing mentality might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The more often you fill your mind with positive thoughts and visualize your success, the more automatic they’ll be. Positive self-talk can make a big difference to your confidence. Run through the presentation — successfully — in your head.
During the presentation:
5. Focus on your material, not the audience
Your audience is there for your presentation — not to assess you. They’ll be looking at your colorful slides and listening to what you’re saying. Don’t let your mind fill with insecurities .
6 . Don't fear silence
If your mind suddenly goes blank, that’s okay. It may seem like an eternity to you as you try to figure out what to say next, but it’s only a few seconds at most.
Pausing isn’t a bad thing, anyway. You can use dramatic breaks advantageously to draw attention before the most important bits.
7 . Speak slowly
Presentation anxiety often causes nervous energy, so we speak faster than normal. This might make you fumble your words or forget important details.
Slow down. Audience members will be thankful since they can understand you , and drawing out your speech will give you time to calm down, ground yourself , and stay organized.
8 . Take deep breaths and drink water
Breathing delivers oxygen to your brain, allowing you to think more clearly. Drinking water ups your energy, and also gives you a moment to pause.
Smiling is a simple yet effective way to soothe your nerves. Doing so releases endorphins, helping you physically feel more confident. And a friendly face will make the audience more open to what you’re saying.
10 . Remember the three "audience truths"
These include: 1) for the duration of the presentation, the audience believes you’re the expert, 2) they’re on your side, and 3) they don’t know when you make a mistake.
After the presentation:
11. Recognize your success
Giving a presentation is something worth being proud of — celebrate it! In addition to family, friends, and coworkers, you deserve a high five from yourself, too.
1 2. Collect feedback
Feedback is a wonderful gift if you use it as a tool to help you do even better next time. Ask some of your audience members what they liked and what they didn’t. Remember, you can learn a lot from your mistakes .
1 3. Don't beat yourself up
You did the best you could, and that’s all anyone — including you — can ask for.
Nervousness is perfectly normal, but sometimes our symptoms hold us back from doing — and enjoying — scarier tasks. Here are five tips for overcoming nerves:
1. Practice impression management
Impression management requires projecting an image that contradicts how you actually feel. It’s essentially a “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy. Let’s say you’re about to make a corporate-wide presentation and feel worried you’ll forget important information. You’ll counteract this worry by imagining yourself remembering every detail and delivering it entertainingly.
Learn from this practice by noting the information chosen in your hypothetical and how you expressed it effectively.
2. Talk to someone
Emotions are contagious. We absorb others’ positive vibes . Chatting with people who are excited about and confident in our presentation abilities rubs off on us.
Before a presentation, call a cheerleader in your life — someone who’s on your side and understands your nerves. Be specific, discussing which parts of presenting are nerve-wracking and what you need from them.
3. Do breathing exercises
Mindful breathing is when you pay attention to the sensation of inhaling and exhaling while controlling and deepening breath length. Breathwork has several health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety and improving memory, attention, and focus.
Before the presentation, find a quiet and solitary space. Breathe deeply for at least a minute, focusing on sensation and depth. This practice brings you into your body and out of your mind (away from nerve-wracking thoughts).
4. Practice reframing
Reframing is a technique used in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to improve negative automatic thought patterns over time. One such pattern is viewing certain emotions as bad, and others as good. Nervousness feels the same in the body as excitement. Instead of panicking even more when realizing you’re nervous, reframe your impression of nerves as excitement for what you’re about to do.
This excitement will propel you forward with confidence and pride for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something scary.
Here are seven inspirational quotes to help you feel confident and excited when doing something you’re nervous about:
“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” John Ford
“ When speaking in public, your message — no matter how important — will not be effective or memorable if you don't have a clear structure. ” Patricia Fripp
“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.” Sir Ralph Richardson
“The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” Lady Bird Johnson
“It’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public.” Tony Robbins
“The worst speech you’ll ever give will be far better than the one you never give.” Fred Miller
Like any other skill, learning how to not be nervous for a presentation takes time and practice. Acknowledging this hurdle is the first step to making a change in the right direction. Facing your fears will empower you to take on scarier — and more fulfilling — goals and enjoy the experience along the way. You don’t have to start with a TED Talk. Tackle small challenges like presenting an idea to your manager or practicing a short speech with a friend. We won’t sugarcoat it — it’s hard to change our minds and habits. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with increased confidence and new experiences.
Shonna Waters, PhD
Vice President of Alliance Solutions
30 presentation feedback examples
Reading the room gives you an edge — no matter who you're talking to, how to give a good presentation: 8 tips, the self presentation theory and how to present your best self, josh bersin on the importance of talent management in the modern workplace, the 11 tips that will improve your public speaking skills, here and now: discover the benefits of being present, executive presence: what is it, why you need it and how to get it, overcoming distraction in the federal workforce, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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8 Ways to Deliver a Great Presentation (Even If You’re Super Anxious About It)
- Joel Schwartzberg
Know your point, always.
Feeling anxious about a presentation? It’s likely about a fear of public humiliation rather than of public speaking.
- Shift the spotlight from yourself to what you have to say.
- Reject the voice in your head trying to destroy your confidence.
- Knowing what matters – and what doesn’t – will help you succeed.
Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .
I recently worked closely with a 24-year-old client — let’s call him Martin — who was tapped to deliver a five-minute presentation at his company’s annual town hall meeting. Martin had never given a public speech in his professional life, but his accomplishments impressed his supervisors, and they wanted Martin to share his success with the rest of the organization.
Martin would have felt rightfully honored and proud, but one dominant feeling dwarfed all the others: abject fear.
With three weeks until the event, that’s where Martin and I started — with his fear. Below, I’m sharing eight pieces of advice I offered to help him manage his anxiety, build an engaging presentation , and convey it with confidence.
1) It’s not about you. It’s about your point. Many people would rather pour hot soup over their heads than speak in public, but that aversion is not really a fear of public speaking . It’s a fear of public humiliation — that you will somehow screw it up and embarrass yourself.
But here’s the thing: Your presentation is not a public speaking contest, and you’re not being judged. You’re not even a performer; you’re a presenter, moving important concepts from your head to your audience’s heads. (That’s why you “deliver” a presentation).
Shifting the spotlight from yourself to your ideas can make you less anxious because it focuses you on your real job — not to be amazing, charismatic, or entertaining, but to effectively convey your point.
2) Know your point. Of course, you must know your point in order to convey it. But don’t make the mistake of confusing your point with a broad topic or theme. Typically, your point is a contention that a specific idea will lead to a successful outcome.
Once you understand your contention, ask yourself four easy questions:
- What is the idea?
- What tactics make the idea successful?
- What is the impact of that success?
- What can others learn from that success?
The answer to those four questions — supported by data, stories, or reasoning — is your presentation. Boom.
Adjust as necessary, but a five-minute presentation means answering each of those questions for a rough average of 75 seconds each. And so long as you make a point, no audience will ever complain about you running short.
3) Let your notes support you. Think of your speaking notes as you would a shopping list: shorthand reminders (no complete sentences) of what you need to cover and in what order. Your notes may be lengthy at first but shorten them during your practice as you rely on them less and less.
Remember: Your notes are there to support you, not script you. Audiences want you to relay your points, not read them.
4) Get loud. Whether you’re in a room or a Zoom, volume is critical to making powerful points. In addition to making you more audible, increased volume instantly conveys authority, confidence, leadership, and competence.
I run an exercise in my workshop in which I ask every participant to speak in a louder voice, then ask other students to weigh in on the resulting differences in that person’s overall impression. Universally, I hear reactions like “more assertive,” “more confident,” and “more persuasive,” whether or not the speaker was, in fact, more assertive, confident, or persuasive. That’s the value of volume.
5) Be yourself. A day before his presentation, Martin messaged me with a series of sudden questions: How often should I gesture? What happens if I sneeze or say “umm”? Should I start with a joke?
My answer to all: “Be yourself.”
Audiences respond best to authentic, even flawed, human behavior because they can relate to it as fellow human beings. Coming across artificial, on the other hand, breaks that connection, reduces your engagement, and harms your reputation.
So if you’re comfortable gesturing, gesture. If you need to sneeze, sneeze. If you’re funny, be funny. Being your most authentic self will also best convey your personal conviction for your points.
6) Practice meaningfully. Effective practice is about having your mind and your mouth act together to produce points. When you mumble your presentation — as we often do when we practice — you’re only practicing one of those two key elements. To practice meaningfully, say it out loud and in real time. You don’t need an audience, a camera, or a mirror (in fact, avoid practicing in front of mirrors entirely). All you need is time and space to run through your full presentation.
This is also the only way to know precisely how long your presentation will run.
7) Turn nervous energy into excitement. Studies show that toggling from nervous energy to excitement may be as easy as telling yourself “I’m excited,” every time you think “I’m nervous,” because the reactions are closely related. Try saying, “I’m excited. I’m excited. I’m excited,” in the minutes and moments before your presentation.
Chances are good you will come across as excited, exuding passion for your point versus anxiety in your performance.
8) Kill Roy. Meet Roy. He’s the voice in your head constantly trying to destroy your confidence, whispering things like, “You’re boring them,” “This is not going well,” and “You’re embarrassing yourself.” But know this: Roy is a liar. He’s the voice of your insecurity, trying to make you feel more self-conscious, not less.
I hear Roy with my own ears whenever a workshop student starts a presentation with “I’m pretty nervous…” or ends with “Sorry, I know that wasn’t great.” The ironic thing is that these presenters never came across as nervous or underwhelming. That’s just Roy, doing whatever he could to sabotage the presentation.
The good news is that confidence is Roy’s Kryptonite. Recognize that the voice in your head is lying and let your faith in your abilities and your points diminish Roy’s impact until no one can hear him.
After lots of practice, Martin eventually nailed his presentation, coming across focused, confident, and passionate (which was confirmed in a follow-up survey including hundreds of staff).
To the audience, Martin “did a great job,” but he knows, I know, and you know that he succeeded not because he was born a great public speaker or has a special gene for fearlessness. Martin succeeded because he knew his point, his job, what mattered most, and what didn’t matter at all.
- JS Joel Schwartzberg oversees executive communications for a major national nonprofit, is a professional presentation coach, and is the author of “ Get to the Point! Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter ” and “ The Language of Leadership: How to Engage and Inspire Your Team .” You can find him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @TheJoelTruth.
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It is entirely natural to feel nervous before making a presentation.
Many seasoned teachers, lecturers and other presenters feel nervous beforehand despite having given hundreds of presentations. The same is true of actors and actresses, celebrities, politicians, preachers and other people working in the media or in the public eye.
Being nervous is not a problem or a weakness, you just need to channel your nervous energy wisely. On the other hand, being over-confident and not nervous could be a weakness!
The symptoms of nerves (or stage fright) can include "butterflies" or a queasy feeling in your stomach, sweaty palms, a dry throat and the panic that your mind has gone blank about your opening lines.
Fortunately, there are some tried and tested strategies and techniques to manage your nerves so that you can concentrate on delivering an effective and engaging presentation.
These techniques will not get rid of your nerves; instead they will help you to use your nervous energy to your advantage. When you are in a heightened state from the adrenaline that is being pumped around your body, you can use that energy to communicate enthusiastically, convincingly, and passionately. The key is to decrease your level of nervousness so you can focus your energy on these positive activities, not on trying to control your nerves.
Managing Presentation Nerves
Leading up to the presentation.
It is essential to always be well prepared and well-rehearsed in order to feel confident.
Do not fixate on the presentation delivery at the expense of good preparation.
Spend time preparing, good preparation, knowing your subject well, and knowing what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, will boost your confidence and help reduce your nerves.
Think of a presentation like an iceberg: what your audience sees - the delivery - is a small percentage of the whole. What goes on out of sight, the planning and preparation, should make up the bulk of the work.
Read our Presentation Skills pages for tips and advice on how to best prepare for your presentation, starting with: What is a Presentation?
Practice your presentation; rehearse to family, friends or just in front of a mirror. Listen to any feedback. Check your timings, speak slowly and think about the types of questions that your audience may have.
If possible visit the presentation venue before the event to see the room layout and check what facilities are available. This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day and help you visualise giving your presentation, which can help reduce feelings of nervousness.
Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy
Nervousness can be heightened if you're not feeling 100%.
Avoid alcohol the night before and on the day of your presentation. Reduce or avoid your caffeine intake from coffee, tea and other sources.
Try to engage in some exercise the day before your presentation. This will not only release endorphins, which make you feel better, but exercise will also make it more likely that you'll sleep well and feel more refreshed on the day of your presentation.
See our pages The Importance of Exercise and The Importance of Sleep for more information.
Eat healthy. If you're feeling nervous then you may not feel like eating. However eating something healthy, fruit and vegetables are always good choices, will make you feel better and give you the energy you need to get through presentation day.
Immediately before the presentation
When you feel nervous immediately before a presentation, the following strategies and exercises should help you:
Practice Deep Breathing
Adrenalin causes your breathing to shallow. By deliberately breathing deeply, your brain will get the oxygen it needs and the slower pace will trick your body into believing you are calmer. This also helps with voice quivers, which can occur when your breathing is shallow and irregular.
Adrenalin can cause a dry mouth, which in turn leads to getting tongue-tied. Have a glass or bottle of water handy and take sips before you start your presentation and occasionally during your presentation, especially when you wish to pause or emphasize a point. Take care not to take large gulps of water.
Chewing gum before a presentation may help you to feel more relaxed. Research has shown that the act of chewing can increase your alertness and help to reduce anxiety. It is usually best to get rid of the gum when you start your presentation.
Use Visualization Techniques
Imagine that you are delivering your presentation to an audience that is interested, enthused, smiling, and reacting positively. Cement this positive image in your mind and recall it just before you are ready to start.
Press and massage your forehead to energize the front of the brain and speech centre.
Although you may not feel relaxed before you give your presentation relaxation, exercises can help. Try the following relaxation exercises, but do not continue with them if they cause any pain or discomfort although remember that you may use some muscles you have not exercised for a while and so feel a little stiff afterwards.
Quick Relaxation Exercises
- Stand in an easy position with your feet one pace apart, knees 'unlocked' and not rigidly pushed back, spine straight, shoulders not tense, and head balanced. Try to keep your face muscles relaxed by not clenching your jaw or clamping your teeth together.
- Now stretch SLOWLY upwards, aim to touch the ceiling but keep your feet flat on the floor. Then flop forward from the waist bending your knees slightly as you go. You are now hanging forward like a rag doll - your arms and head totally unsupported and relaxed.
- Straighten up SLOWLY, almost vertebra by vertebra, as if you were puppet and a giant puppet master was pulling you up by the strings keeping your head until last, when you are standing in your original easy position.
Repeat this exercise three times.
Alternatively you can relax in a chair:
- Sit comfortably with your lower spine pressed into the back of the chair.
- Raise your arms above your head and stretch as high as possible.
- Release your arms to your sides and bend forwards with your legs stretched out and stretch your arms out far as possible.
- Return to your starting position.
See our section: Relaxation Techniques for more information and ideas of how you can learn to relax effectively.
During the presentation
Many people find that once they are actually giving their presentation or speech they feel a lot better and more relaxed. But it's important to remember to:
Just before you start talking, pause, make eye contact, and smile. This last moment of peace is very relaxing and gives you time to adjust to being the centre of attention.
Smiling is a natural relaxant that sends positive chemical messages through your body. Smiling and maintaining eye contact also help you build rapport with your audience.
Speak more slowly than you would in a conversation, and leave longer pauses between sentences. This slower pace will calm you down, and it will also make you easier to hear, especially at the back of a large room.
Move around a little during your presentation as this will expend some of your nervous energy. However, try not to pace backwards and forwards, or rock on your heels, as these activities can be distracting or irritating to your audience.
Stop Thinking About Yourself
Remember that the audience is there to get some information and that it is your job to put that information across to them. Try to put your nerves aside and think about communicating your message as effectively as possible.
After the event
It's important to focus on the positives of your presentation once you've finished. Experience is the single most effective way of overcoming presentation nerves and delivering better presentations in the future.
When possible, ask members of your audience for constructive feedback on your presentation. Listen to what they say and focus on areas that need improvement. Try to see any negative points not as a measure of failure but as learning opportunities for future presentations. Our page on Giving and Receiving Feedback may help here.
Use reflective practice
Reflective practice is a useful technique to help you think about and analyse your experiences and can be used for many aspects of life. The use of reflective practice for a presentation can be particularly useful for helping to minimise feelings of nervousness for future presentations. See our page of Reflective Practice for more help and information.
Don't beat yourself up
Like most things in life, presentations are unlikely to be perfect and there are always ways you can improve. When you get feedback from others and reflect on your own performance, it is important that you understand this and give yourself a break. Think about the positives and what went well, and learn from any mistakes or elements that you feel unhappy with.
Treat yourself to something that you'll enjoy. Perhaps a glass of wine, or a nice cake or just a relaxing soak in the bath. Something to make you feel a bit special and recognise your achievement.
Continue to: Dealing with Presentation Questions Stress and Stress Management
See also: Preparing for a Presentation | Organising the Material The Newbie Blueprint for Virtual Presentation Success
22 Tips for Calming your Nerves Before a Speech or Presentation
by Janice Tomich
- Fear of Public Speaking
You’ve been invited to pitch an idea to your boss or deliver a presentation to an industry association.
Your first reaction is to jump at the opportunity but as the day gets closer your pre-presentation nerves are getting the better of you.
As your anxiety ramps up you can hear the sound of your heart thumping in your ears and your clothes are sticking to your skin. Nights before the big day you toss and turn in bed.
Thankfully there are lots of ways to manage your presentation jitters.
You noticed the word managed…right?
Nervousness isn’t something you can entirely get rid of, however when you increase your skills by learning anxiety management techniques you can begin to quiet the feelings that fuel unhelpful (and usually untrue) stories that take up far too much time in your head.
These are some of the tried-and-true tips I give to my public speaking coaching clients, many of whom struggle with nervousness when they have a presentation looming.
Table of Contents
1. Understand Fight or Flight
Most everyone who has a presentation to deliver will feel some degree of nervousness. Thanks to our Neanderthal ancestors, the body’s response to your amygdala getting hijacked and going into fight or flight is a deeply embedded, primal reaction.
Public speaking, however, is not the same as being attacked by a sabre toothed tiger.
What’s the best way to manage this innate response?
Realize that the fight or flight response is part of your DNA, hardwired into what it means to be human. This the awareness will help tamp down your public speaking nerves.
2. Know that Nerves and Anxiety Are a Habit
Behaviours follows triggers, and for many people the fear of public speaking fuels overthinking and worrying. This results in them feeling more anxious. According to Dr Judd Brewer , this creates an anxiety loop in which we convince ourselves that we are being constructive and solving a problem.
When you feel your heart racing or your monkey brain telling you doomsday stories, notice where it feel tight or uncomfortable in your body? From this place of awareness you can begin to manage your anxiety.
Becoming aware of the anxiety loop gives you insight, which helps it to stop progressing.
Sucheta Misra Associate VP Inclusion & Diversity and Social Impact Leader
3. Breathe the Right Way
Breathing sounds easy!
Actually it’s not.
When you get anxious you’ll find yourself taking rapid breaths, restricted to the upper half of your chest. This kind of breathing fuels a nervous reaction.
Instead, consciously take a few deep breaths to regulate your heightened emotions. This will drop your heart rate, too, and make you feel more relaxed.
If you have a Fitbit or a device that monitors your heart rate you’ll be amazed to see how quickly your heart rate will drop by simply taking in a series of deep breaths.
4. Transform Your Nervous Energy Into Excitement
Anxiety and excitement are similar emotions. Both are high states of arousal accompanied by things such as a rapid heart rate, dry mouth, sweaty palms and sometimes a feeling of being outside of your body.
We view anxiety as negative thoughts, as uncomfortable. Excitement, on the other hand has a postive energy. It’s a feeling we’d much rather feel.
The good news is you can trick your brain into feeling excited instead of anxious, using awareness and reframing techniques.
Positive thinking and using affirming self talk can flip the switch from anxiety to excitement. When you feel anxiety bubbling up, say out loud, “I feel excited.”
Using this tip, to change a negative mindset to a positive one, and you’ve set yourself up nicely for your next presentation.
If you’re lost and unsure about how to make your presentation compelling, I can help.
5. Smile, Even if You’re Feeling Anxious
Smiling helps lower your stress level by releasing endorphins, which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
Yes, as easy as smiling!
6. Use Relaxation Exercises
Meditation is the simple act of being aware of what’s in front of us … no yoga mat or meditation cushion required. Meditation can subdue the nervous tension that comes with delivering presentations.
Recently, a client shared with me his rather surprising meditative process. It’s slightly unusual (and had me laughing).
Before every presentation, he goes to a fast food restaurant and orders a cheeseburger. Then, he consciously watches as he orders his food, receives his order, and then eats it. Apparently this meditative ritual works for him every time.
A more common approach (than the cheeseburger routine) is to simply be observant of your environment while you’re walking, or consciously feel the sensation of water falling on your body when you take your morning shower.
Meditation techniques lower your anxiety because you won’t cycle through all worrying “what if’s”. Instead, simply be present.
7. Burn Off Energy by Doing Some Cardio
Moving your body and getting your heart pumping also releases endorphins which can help quell any pre-presentation anxiety .
I’ve been known to do a few fast-walking laps around a conference centre to reduce the stress I feel before I deliver a speech or presentation.
Going for a quick run or cycle before your event are terrific anxiety-busters too!
8. Use Visualization Techniques
Did you know you can strengthen muscles without even moving them ?
Elite athletes, such as golfers, practice watching (in their mind’s eye) their ball land on the green or in the cup. The visualization exercise builds muscle memory to help hit the ball successfully, so it lands where the golfer intended.
Public speakers can use visualization techniques to manage anxiety, too.
As your presentation day nears, take your mind on a walking tour. Imagine every detail – in your mind’s eye walk onto the stage, deliver your speech, listen to the applause, and then leave the stage. Do the visualization with a positive outlook to set yourself for an anxiety-free delivery.
9. Be Prepared
Preparing in the content of your presentation in the ‘theatre of your mind’ is a trap. Practicing this way lulls you into thinking that all is well as you run through your presentation self correcting.
Only practicing your actual words will prepare you for the live event. You’ll establish exactly what you want to say, and how to say it, which will boost your confidence and soothe any nervousness.
10. Practice, Practice, and Then Practice Some More
I have never had a client tell me they wished they’d practiced less.
My advice for how to practice delivering a speech or presentation is to practice until you are tired of hearing yourself, which typically clocks in at 30 hours of practice for a one-hour presentation .
Pro Tip: Once you have practiced your entire presentation a few times, you only practice the parts which are tripping you up. There’s no value in practicing from start to finish when you’re only challenged by specific sections.
11. Drink Water to Stay Hydrated During Your Presentation
Having a dry mouth can cause you to trip over your words, which will rev up even more nervous tension. Beginning a few days before you’re scheduled to deliver your speech, increase your water intake so your words will flow easily.
Pro Tip: Pop one of these lozenges in your mouth a few minutes before you go on stage. They work wonders to coat your mouth and throat.
12. Prepare an Excellent Opening to Your Presentation
I don’t recommend memorizing your entire presentation or speech. But I do recommend memorizing the open and close.
Anxiety often ramps up in the first 30 seconds of your presentation. By committing to memory the beginning (and the close) you’ll prevent yourself from having a rocky start or lacklustre finish.
13. Employ the Power of the Pause
You likely talk too fast when you’re nervous. With the rapid fire of your words comes an increase in your stress level.
Pauses are a brilliant technique slow down your speech, and avoid talking too quickly.
Look through your presentation and find the most important points you want your audience to take back to the office. Place a pause in the front and back end of these sections.
Not only do pauses help your audience understand the important points, it gives you some breathing room and slows down your rate of speaking.
14. Before You Present, Test the Technology
There’s nothing like technology not working to rattle your nerves — even for seasoned presenters.
Whether you’re online or in person, make sure you’re comfortable with the technology you’ll be using.
If you’re delivering online ask a friend or colleague to do a technology run-through.
If you’re delivering live on stage most event planners invite their presenters for a pre-presentation tech check.
Take advantage of the time to test the technology so you can deliver without having to worry about which button to click or where to stand.
15. Arrive Early, Before You’re Scheduled to Present
Whether online or in person, arrive 20 to 30 minutes before you’re scheduled to present.
Give yourself lots of time to settle in and feel comfortable in your surroundings. Arriving early will give you the opportunity to check out where everything is situated, which will stop any last minute scrambling that could leave you unsettled.
16. Walk Around. Own Your Space.
When you walk into a space cold — not having been on-site before — it’s challenging to know how much space you can take advantage of.
Take the time to walk around the presentation space (This applies to both live events and online ones.)
There is comfort in knowing how much “real estate” you have to move through. Feel your feet on the floor.
17. Attend Your Colleagues’ Presentations
Likewise, take the time to get comfortable in the event itself. Stop in and listen to your colleagues’ presentations, and encourage them to attend yours.
Building a sense of camaraderie helps you feel supported by your peers, which helps release the nervous energy soothe your pre-presentation jitters.
18. Meet Your Audience Before Your Presentation
When I deliver a presentation I arrive well in advance of when I’m scheduled to deliver so I can meet the people who will be attending my talk.
It’s a good investment. Meeting your audience beforehand “warms” the room (makes you and them feel more comfortable). This allows you to better connect with your audience.
19. Connect Through Good Eye Contact
During your presentation, connect with the audience using effective eye contact. Make this an easy win by following tip #19 and reading my article with five tips for making eye contact .
20. Use Powerful Body Language
Try slumping over. How do you feel? Low on energy?
Now stand tall with your shoulders back and your head held high. How do you feel now? I suspect you feel high energy/confident.
Your posture affects how you feel. The small shift from slumped to taking up lots of space makes a big difference to your level of confidence .
21. Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine in the Lead-Up to the Event
We all know the effects of excessive alcohol and caffeine. One will leave you too relaxed, and the other too jittery.
Save the drinks until after your presentation, and limit yourself to one cup of coffee or tea before you present to deliver your speech as the best version of yourself.
22. Sleep Well the Night Before
A day or two before you are scheduled to deliver your speech plan to have your slides completed and confident you know your content inside out.
Don’t spend the night before adjusting slides and practicing. Trying to create a perfect presentation at the last minute will only ramp up your anxiety.
Schedule lots of time to prepare in the weeks leading up to the event, so can feel refreshed to meet your audience.
If you’re struggling with presentation nerves choose a few of the techniques which resonated with you. Give them a try. It’s though practice and increasing your public speaking skills that you’ll get a handle on your nerves.
Watching my clients build their communication & public speaking confidence is my sweet spot. Reach out to discover how we might work together so you can manage any presentation anxiety you might be experiencing.
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Manage Presentation Anxiety to Become Confident Public Speaker
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11 Tips For Calming Your Nerves Before A Big Presentation
At age 15, Darlene Price had to give her very first speech.
She was presenting an oral book report on “ Great Expectations ” to Mrs. Weaver’s tenth grade English class. She was nervous and could feel her hands shaking, heart racing, knees knocking, and palms sweating. As she reached the front of the room and turned to face her 33 classmates, she froze.
Moments passed, snickers erupted, and Mrs. Weaver asked 15-year-old Price to begin her presentation.
As soon as she made eye contact with the audience, all of the nervous tics disappeared — not because a wave of calm came over her, but rather because she fainted .
Three decades later, Price is a communications coach, author, and the president of Well Said, Inc. , an award-winning company that teaches professionals how to speak with confidence, clarity, and credibility. And, she jokes, she "can finally stay vertical during a speech."
Price says her high school experience taught her this: Effective public speaking is not about getting rid of the nerves. It’s about managing them so that you’re able to effectively communicate and connect with the audience.
She's also learned that what happened to her in tenth grade isn’t so uncommon.
In fact, surveys about our human fears commonly show fear of public speaking toward the top of the list. “Though statistics vary on the exact percentages, it’s safe to say most of us get nervous before a public speaking engagement,” she explains. “As a speaker facing an audience, we often fear failure, criticism, judgment, embarrassment, comparison, or rejection.”
Physically, nervousness and anxiety may cause an increased heart rate, a queasy stomach, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, weak knees, dry mouth, a quivering voice, blushing, muscle tension, headache, stuttering, lightheadedness, or, even fainting — which Price learned the hard way.
“Despite the scary list of symptoms, the good news is this: There are no negative consequences from feeling nervous; the trick is to avoid showing it.” An audience cannot see how you feel; they only see how you look and act. Therefore, when you learn how to look and act calm, confident, and composed on the outside, that’s what the audience perceives and believes.
Here are 11 tips for calming your nerves before a big presentation:
Prepare. Research your subject, craft your content, and know your material well in advance, Price suggests. “Just remember the six Ps: Proper Preparation and Practice Prevent Poor Performance,” she says. “Procrastination only leads to increased anxiety.”
Know your venue . “Don’t wait until you arrive onstage to realize that there’s a post blocking your view of half the audience, or that they will be serving dinner while you speak, or that there are problems with the audio visual equipment provided,” says public speaking coach Ian Cunliffe. Research the venue, become familiar with the schedule of events surrounding your presentation, and test the equipment beforehand.
Practice. There’s no better way to calm your nerves and ensure a winning presentation than to rehearse aloud, with an audience if possible. “Ideally, record the rehearsal and review your performance,” Price says.
Visualize your success. Sports psychologists have proven that an athlete’s ability to vividly visualize his or her success creates a higher win rate, she says. “Before your next presentation, mentally walk yourself through the presentation. Picture yourself speaking with confidence and poise; see your audience responding positively.”
Practice positive self-talk. “Replace negative thinking with affirmations, which comes from the Latin affirmare, ‘to make steady or strengthen,’” Price says. “Say to yourself, ‘I am a dynamic speaker.’ ‘I am enthusiastic and engaging.’ ‘I am prepared and confident.’” As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you are right.”
Know your audience. “Do a little research beforehand in order to find out what your audience is hoping to gain from hearing you speak,” says Cunliffe. “Arrive early and talk to a few individual audience members about their needs, that way you’ll have insider information and friendly faces that you can focus on when you take the stage.”
Price agrees. “Conversation helps relax your nerves, creates a bond with your audience, and sets the stage for ‘personable’ speaking versus ‘public’ speaking.”
Exercise lightly and breathe deeply before you speak. Find a private area beforehand where you can do some light stretching or a few knee-bends. Another option is to take a brisk walk down the hall and back. “This rids the body of excess energy,” she explains. “In addition, take several deep breaths. Inhale through the nose on a slow count of three; and exhale through the mouth on a slow count of three. Deep breathing floods the brain with oxygen.”
Memorize your opening. The beginning of the presentation often carries a rush of adrenalin. Learn your first few sentences so well you don’t have to think about it. “This empowers you to start strong and make a confident first impression despite nervousness,” says Price.
Claim the three “audience truths.” One: They believe you’re the expert, so don’t tell them otherwise. Two: They want you to succeed, so they’re on your side. Three: They won’t know when you make a mistake, so don’t announce it.
Smile. Sincere smiling emits chemicals in the brain that calms the nerves and promotes a sense of well being, she says. “Plus, it shows your audience that you’re happy to see them and enthusiastic about the message.”
Realize you don’t look as nervous as you feel. Presenters who review their videotaped presentations almost always say, “Wow, I don’t look nearly as nervous as I felt.” “Remember, your audience does not see how you feel inside; they only see how you look and act on the outside,” Price says.
As a speaker, when you’re calm and confident going into a presentation (or at least look as though you are) you reap a multitude of benefits, namely believability, likeability, and visibility. “When you’re able to manage your nerves, take the mic, and connect with an audience, you greatly increase your visibility and career opportunities in the workplace,” Price concludes.
How to Effectively Calm Your Nerves Before & During a Presentation
Posted by Belinda Huckle | On November 12, 2021 | In Presentation Training, Tips & Advice
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2. a tendency towards perfectionism, 3. believing the audience is going to be there only to criticise, walk into the room like you own it, smile (a genuine smile), connect with your audience, keep your voice tone natural and conversational, use gestures, embrace movement, be authentic, a few more tips on how to calm nerves before a presentation, and finally – self-help – why not explore yourself how to calm nerves before a presentation, follow us on social media for more great presentation tips:.
Here’s some simple and practical tips, not only on how to calm nerves before a presentation but also during a presentation , shared by our Managing Director, Belinda Huckle.
Surveys have shown time and again that the fear of public speaking (scientifically known as glossophobia ) is the number one phobia amongst adults. So, if you suffer from pre-presentation nerves, fear, anxiety or stage fright, you are not alone!
There’s more good news too – nerves can actually be a very useful emotion to harness when presenting, as the adrenalin associated with them can actually help us stay sharp and focused. However, left unchecked, nerves don’t help anyone, and can leave us feeling anxious, overwhelmed, inadequate and exhausted.
We have put together some practical, straightforward approaches to help you to begin to understand presentation anxiety and how to manage it.
The key to controlling nerves around presenting involves:
- How to calm nerves before a presentation so they don’t undermine your confidence, and;
- How to calm nerves during a presentation (by harnessing your nervous energy!) to elevate your presentation impact.
So, let’s look at these in some more detail:
How to calm nerves before a presentation
If you do feel nervous in the lead up to a presentation, please, don’t panic. The fact that you are nervous shows that you care both about yourself and your audience. Indeed, if you didn’t have any nerves it could be a sign of complacency or even arrogance.
So, when you feel those tell-tale signs such as butterflies in your stomach, take a step back and try to understand why you are nervous.
Here are three common causes of pre-presentation nerves:
We’d love to tell you that there’s a silver bullet solution to this issue. But there isn’t – it’s up to you to plan, prepare and execute your presentation professionally , just as you would with other aspects and responsibilities of your role. However, we can point you in the right direction! You need to do three main things:
- Firstly , think about your audience – get inside their heads and analyse what they want, and/or what the audience needs to hear from you . The more you can tailor your content so that it’s meaningful and relevant for your listeners, the more interesting and persuasive your presentation will be.
- Secondly , structure your presentation so it builds a clear, logical and compelling narrative that gets your message across in a concise and memorable way. (SecondNature has a fantastic Presentation MapperTM methodology that helps presenters do just that).
- A super-fast technique if you really do not have any time to properly practise, is to memorise the opening – just the first 10 seconds or so – it will take a lot of pressure off you if this is ingrained into your brain in advance and you start strong!
- And, if you’ve got a little more time, you should then memorise the key 3-5 take-aways/messages from your presentation, and your closing sentence. Remember, the occasion for dress rehearsals is not when you have your audience in front of you!
If after having prepared and rehearsed you still feel anxious about delivering your presentation, it could be because you are a perfectionist, and so are setting impossibly high standards for yourself and putting yourself under excessive self-generated pressure.
If you suspect you are a perfectionist, acknowledging it is an important first step. You can then use one of the following four tools to attempt to address your perfectionist thinking (at least just for your upcoming presentation!):
- Realistic thinking – Nobody’s perfect! Be honest with yourself. Tell yourself that no one is perfect and tell yourself that making a mistake does not mean you’re a failure or stupid or unprofessional. Just commit to yourself that you will do your best.
- Perspective taking – Try to view situations as other people might see them, by asking yourself how might someone else view the thought of giving your presentation. Is there another perspective? Are there other ways to look at it. Or, turn it around, and ask what might you tell a friend who is having the same nervous thoughts.
- Look at the big picture – Don’t get bogged down in the detail and don’t sweat the small stuff. Ask yourself questions like: “How much does this really matter in the scheme of things?”, “What’s the worst that can happen?”, or “Will this matter tomorrow?”.
- Compromising – Don’t see things as black and white, i.e. that they are either perfect or a disaster. Accept that a presentation that is good can actually be ok. This will help to lower your high standards (this is not suggesting you ditch any standards, just set more realistic ones). Your perfectionism is a little like a phobia of making mistakes. So you could try changing your behaviour using a technique to combat phobias, called Exposure , to gradually introduce yourself to being just slightly less than perfect in important situations…and surviving. Also, if you procrastinate, you can try to overcome it (procrastination is sometimes associated with perfectionism), by setting realistic schedules and priorities.
Think about it – is that really the case? We very much doubt it. In fact, we would like to think that just about every audience wants the speaker to do well – they are there to listen to a presentation about something that affects them or that they are interested in.
So, accept the audience’s support (explicit or tacit), and let it boost your confidence. You might even involve the audience in your presentation – something we always recommend, whenever possible.
So, perhaps when you’re wondering how to calm nerves before a presentation, or you’re just trying to understand and manage your nerves better, remember the words Benjamin Franklin originally said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail!”.
Photo: Flickr – Freddie Peña
How to calm nerves during a presentation (by harnessing your nervous energy!)
During your presentation, there are some proven strategies that will help you to harness the excess adrenalin you might have racing around. This excess adrenalin is caused by our Fight or Flight response which in turn can cause sweaty palms, increased heart rate, blushing, the shakes, tightness of breath, wobbly voice, needing to go to the bathroom and so on.
We’ve all heard the expression “You don’t get a second chance to create a positive first impression .” Well, research backs this up. In fact, a recent study by Science of People found that people watching TED talk videos made decisions about how smart, charismatic and credible the speakers were within just 7 seconds.
So, here are 7 secrets for the first 7 seconds of your presentation that show you how to calm nerves during a presentation and will help you to harness your nervous energy and create a powerful first impression.
So, remember, the more you look like you’re enjoying delivering the presentation, the more the audience will enjoy listening to you.
Imagine success (visualisation)
Many people significantly benefit from imagining themselves successfully delivering their presentations. This is a tool used by world class athletes, musicians and actors. It’s called visualisation. Here’s how to do it:
First, relax; close your eyes and breathe deeply. When you are aware you’re feeling relaxed, imagine yourself, as clearly as you can, successfully delivering your presentation from the beginning to the very end. Imagine walking into the room – tall, confident, calm. Imagine the start of the presentation, focus on the audience and their smiles (and you smiling back); hear your voice, strong and in control. Imagine the smooth transition between slides; the impact of your key messages.
Imagine being able to answer questions with confidence; imagine enjoying talking with the audience and imagine them enjoying listening to you. Imagine your natural personality coming out. Imagine the end; the conviction as you deliver your closing message (or as we call it at SecondNature, your final destination) to your audience; the feeling of pride and satisfaction in your performance. And, remind yourself again and again that the audience wants you to succeed.
For the full effect, this technique should be done a number of times (3-5 is common) in the days leading up to your presentation.
Take a pause
If you feel nerves coming on during your presentation…pause… A real pause , of a few seconds – it may feel like a long time to you, but we promise, it won’t feel like that for the audience. This will help you to regain control and we absolutely guarantee the audience won’t think it’s a negative. In fact, many of the most charismatic and brilliant speakers pause often, for quite a few seconds, during their speeches, in order to add impact, authority and drama. And it is easy to do if you move at the same time.
As part of pausing, an extra option is to also check-in with your audience, e.g. pause…and then ask them if they have any questions about what you’ve shared so far. This is a terrific way to buy yourself time to take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and to collect yourself.
And, of course, you can always take a sip of water, as a means of pausing. It’s another way to give yourself a few moments to compose yourself again. There’s no rule to say you can’t present and drink at the same time!
Practise, practise, practise
Finally, learning to calm your nerves and present with confidence is like anything – it takes practise, so seize as many presenting opportunities as you possibly can. The more you present, the easier it will get. With time and practise you will find that you will be able to manage your nerves more easily before a presentation and any negative nervous energy during a business meeting or presentation will reduce.
To learn more about managing your nerves and to keep them in check, why not do some further research and take a deep dive into some physiology, psychology and general physical and mental health. It is interesting to note that negative thoughts often subside once they’re heard and countered with balancing, logical thoughts, so it is possible to use our intellect to override our instincts!
So why not check out things like:
- Your inner dialogue (fears, doubts, uncertainty)
- Your limbic system (which regulates your emotions like stress and anxiety)
- Cognitive reappraisal, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Acceptance and Dedication Therapy .
- Your vagus nerve (and exercises to stimulate it to help you relax and de-stress).
- Imposter syndrome.
Then go on to learn some techniques to calm both your breathing and your heart rate. Structured breathing and other breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing can be used to help dissipate nerves and therefore help you stay calm.
And, in the end, don’t forget, experiencing nerves before and during a presentation isn’t a bad thing. They show that you care. So prepare and practise, and then be ready to enjoy the opportunity to connect, share, inform, influence, or inspire your audience!
Improve your presentation skills further!
Keen to learn how to successfully present with confidence? Then look at tailored training to lift your in-person and online presenting skills.
For nearly 20 years we have been the Business Presentation Skills Experts , training & coaching thousands of people in an A-Z of global blue-chip organisations – check out what they say about our programs .
To find out more, click on one of the buttons below:
Written By Belinda Huckle
Co-Founder & Managing Director
Belinda is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of SecondNature International. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training both In-Person and Online, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.
Belinda believes that people don’t have to change who they are to be the presenter they want to be. So she developed a coaching approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.
She has helped to transform the presentation skills of people around the world in an A-Z of organisations including Amazon, BBC, Brother, BT, CocaCola, DHL, EE, ESRI, IpsosMORI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Moonpig, Nationwide, Pfizer, Publicis Groupe, Roche, Savills, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.
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The secret to overcoming nervous speaking and presenting
Aug 05, 2014 by maurice decastro in anxiety , presentation skills , public speaking.
If you feel nervous speaking in public or presenting at work, you’ll know it can be very unpleasant.
Many of the symptoms of nervous speaking are very similar to other life experiences.
Approaching a member of the opposite sex to ask them out on a date, going for a job interview and taking your driving test, can feel just like nervous speaking.
Shortness of breath, sweaty palms, dry mouth, queasy stomach and wobbly legs. These are just a handful of physical symptoms that can affect our performance.
If you feel nervous speaking or presenting at work or in public, you may worry for weeks or even months in advance.
It’s our thoughts that dictate the way we feel
We become what we think about and so does our presentation.
Your partner is late home from work. You knew they were going for a quick celebratory birthday drink with a colleague at work but now it’s getting really late.
The later it gets, the more worried and anxious you become because you fear the worst.
Perhaps they have been attacked on the way home from the station. You imagine they’ve had too much to drink and stepped out into the middle of the road. Your anxiety becomes heightened even further by your thoughts that perhaps the reason for their absence is an affair.
Your mind has made a quantum leap from a frenzied attack to a sordid affair,
How did that happen?
The more you play those thoughts in your head, the more vivid you make the image and the more real the movie becomes.
Now you’re upset and its completely unfounded. The truth is, the only reason they are late is because they stopped for something to eat on the way home. Their battery was dead on their mobile phone, so they couldn’t call.
As strange as it may sound, nervous speaking can be a little like that
What movie do you play over and over again in your mind when it’s time to give an important presentation?
Could it be the movie that causes your mouth to turn dry, butterflies to dance the tango in your stomach?
Is it the movie that creates a feeling of panic and dread?
You anxiety is often related to your thinking
The racing heartbeat and feeling of nausea are likely to do with the perceived world you have created in your own mind.
It’s completely normal
It’s likely that your thoughts are related to some of the following:
I’ll make a fool of myself
They won’t like me
I’ll forget my words
What if they ask me a question I dont know the answer to?
The feelings associated with nervous speaking don’t easily go away just because you command them to.
Imagine telling someone who has a terrifying fear of flying to pull themselves together at 40,000 feet,whilst being pelted around in their seat by turbulence. It’s futile!
Here are some highly effective ideas to help you to manage the symptoms of nervous speaking.
Practice, practice, and practice some more. I don’t mean memorize, memorize and memorize.
I mean, get to know your material; internalize your message. Rehearse in front of the mirror, friends, family or even next doors dog; just know your stuff.
The more prepared you are, the less anxious you will feel
Imagine turning up for your presentation to find that you left all of your notes on the train or that your laptop had stopped working.
The thought alone is enough to start your heart racing.
That’s why you need to own your message
In the unlikely event of that happening, you should still be able to speak because you know your message. You may not have all the data but you can still give a good account of why you called your audience together in the first place.
Once you have absolute clarity of your message, spend some time practicing:
– The verbal expression of your message; how you sound.
– The non-verbal expression of your message; how you look.
Give yourself plenty of time to calm down and connect with yourself before you speak.
Become familar with the:
Environment – temperature, sounds, lighting, space
Facilities and resources
Allow yourself the time and space to improve the flow of oxygen to your brain to help you think more clearly.
Don’t be in a rush to speak.
The real secret to nervous speaking is learning to connect with yourself first and just be present in the room.
The fastest, simplest and most reliable path to presence, is to take the time to breathe.
It’s impossible to hold more than one thought at a time.
If your thought is focused on your breath, you will instantly begin to feel more calm and relaxed.
Don’t wait untill the day of your presentation to practice
Make it a daily practice long before you turn up to present.
There are a number of very helpful mobile applications that can help you. Two of my personal favourites are Calm and Headspace .
Don’t be selfish
Stop focusing on yourself for a moment and think about your audience.
Think about what they need and how you can help them instead.
Don’t focus on whether your audience can hear you stuttering or can see the red blotches on your neck.
– How much they may already know and care about this topic?
– What else they want and need to know?
– Why should they care about what you have to say?
– How what you have to say will make their lives better, easier, happier or positively different in some way?
– How can you anticipate and address any resistance they may have?
– What they have to gain by listening to you?
– What questions they will have for you and how you answer them?
Play to your strengths
If you have a gift for telling stories, then use it.
Perhaps storytelling isn’t your strength, it may be:
– Making eye contact
– Making people laugh
– The strength of your voice
– Your passion
– Your empathy
– Interacting with the audience
Play to your strengths, instead of focusing too much on your weaknesses.
Be a number
Imagine confidence on a scale of one to ten, with one representing the lowest level of confidence and ten the highest.
Practice holding a high number of your choosing in your mind.
Close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and then ask yourself what that number/level of confidence looks, sounds and feels like in your personal world.
Don’t think about how it is percieved by others; think about what it means to you personally.
Once you have an image in your mind and feeling in your body, practice being that number/ level of confidence over and over again.
Read a few passages from your favourit book or even the newspaper; owning that level of confidence.
In other words, how would you stand, look, speak and move.
Watch the brilliant Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy, ‘Your body language may shape who you are’.
Choose to be that number moments before you stand to present
Before you utter a word, take a moment to stand, pause and breathe. Choose a number, a level of confidence that you would like to feel and project.
Then step into that number and be that number.
An eight will serve most people well
Even though we are not actors we all subconsciously know how to be an eight on a scale of confidence.
We just have to hold that number and image in our mind as a level of confidence.
This isn’t about acting, it’s about ‘being’.
Play a movie you like
Before you present, picture yourself in your mind presenting as you really want to.
– Yourself speaking fluently and easily
– Your audience smiling and nodding in agreement
– Connecting with the audience and enjoying yourself
– Standing tall, proud and strong as you speak
– Your words flowing naturally and easily
– Your audience applauding when you finish speaking
If that’s too difficult then at least imagine:
– Yourself lying on the beach, the warm sun on your skin and the sound of the ocean
– Doing something you love, a hobbie, pastime or passion
– That incredible moment you passed your driving test or were offered your first job
– That feeling of relief, joy and success after your first kiss
– Being in your favourite place in the world
Change your thoughts and you’ll change your emotional state.
Remember, you probably know more about your subject than anyone in your audience, so take comfort in that.
If you don’t, then remember, you have been asked to present for a good reason. They could just have easily asked someone else but they chose you.
We all hold some limiting and negative beliefs, no one is exempt
There are many reasons we can feel nervous presenting.
One of them may be because we have allowed those limiting or negative beliefs to thrive for years without noticing, challenging and reframing them.
– Write down your limiting or negative beliefs
– Instead of looking for evidence as to why you believe them to be true, look for evidence why they are not true
– Write down what you would need to believe to help you to feel less nervous speaking
– Look for evidence elsewhere in life for success, acheivement and confidence; write it down
– Write down a brand new set of beliefs that are far more empowering and helpful
– Practice focusing on those new, positive beliefs
Watch your language
Watch out for negative self- talk.
Replace it with positive and kind self-talk.
Negative self-talk Positive self-talk I don’t know how to present This is an opportunity to learn something new
Presenting and public speaking is so hard I’ll get some presention training
I’m not a confident presenter Confidence comes with practice
I don’t have time to prepare I will make time to prepare, it’s important
There’s no way I’ll be good at this I will do everything I can to make it work
I’m an introvert, not a public speaker Many great speakers are introverts; they care
No one will listen to me I’m speaking to help my audience
What if I freeze and forget my words I will pause, breathe, smile and carry on
What if they ask me a question I can’t answer I will respond honestly and calmly
Remind yourself how good you really are at your job
Remember how much you know and care about the topic.
Remeber just how far you’ve come and all that you have achieved in the past.
Don’t beat yourself up in your mind.
Be kind and gentle with yourself, use words of encouragement.
Learn from the best
Get some help:
– Watch TED talks ( https://www.ted.com/ ) and https://www.youtube.com/ videos of some of your favourite presenters.
– Take on board what you admire the most and adapt what you like to suit your personality and style in a way that will work for you.
– Spend time with colleagues you admire as presenters. Watch them, ask them questions, get some feedback.
– Attend workshops, conferencing and seminars in person and online -meet as many presenters as you can.
– Find a really good public speaking coach to help you.
Try not to stand as though your feet are nailed to the floor.
Movement represents energy and visual stimulation.
Use your energy and own the platform.
Stand tall and straight with your feet, shoulders or hip width apart; feel your feet connected to the ground you are standing on.
Move around with purpose, not just for the sake of it.
Let your hands speak.
Let your body speak.
Don’t forget to let your face speak.
The whole stage is yours, practice owning it
If you have a flip chart, be sure to move it to a position that suits you.
If there is a screen then touch the screen.
Move the laptop, tables or chairs wherever you want them to; show them it’s all yours.
Please don’t forget
Dress for confidence. If you look good, it’s highly likely you will feel good too.
Smiling makes you look more attractive.
It’s contagious, will make you feel good and make other people feel good too.
Finally, always remember:
“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you feel nervous speaking and need a little help:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course .
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching .
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
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