You need to develop some strategies and techniques to manage your nerves so you can concentrate on delivering an effective and engaging presentation.
To harness your nervousness and bring it under control, there are six key tips to remember. These tips are designed to help you focus on your audience and their needs rather than on yourself and how you are feeling.
Six Steps to Conquering Your Presentation Nerves
Know Your Audience
The more confident you are that you are presenting them with useful and interesting material for them, the less nervous you will be overall. You really don’t want your presentation to be a surprise. If it is, you lose complete control over the audience’s reaction and that is a large factor in nervousness. So:
Know Your Material
Nothing is worse than trying to give a presentation on a topic you are not well prepared for. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert beforehand, but you’d better know it backwards on presentation day. And making sure you’ve understood your audience and their needs properly will help you ensure that your material is on target to meet their needs.
Structure Your Presentation
A common technique for trying to calm nervousness is memorizing what you intend to say. But all this does is make your delivery sound like it is coming from a robot. If you miss a word or draw a blank, your whole presentation is thrown off and then your nervousness compounds itself with every remaining second.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Although you should avoid memorizing your presentation, you do want to be very comfortable with your delivery. Familiarity brings confidence, and practice helps you to deliver the words naturally.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
You also need to prepare yourself for the actual delivery.
- Decide what you are going to wear – make it comfortable and appropriate.
- Arrive early and get your equipment set up.
- Anticipate problems and have backups and contingencies in place in case something doesn’t work, you forget something, etc.
- If possible, give everything one last run through in the real environment.
- Prepare responses to anticipated questions. Try to think like that one person in the front row who always tries to trip the presenter up.
Calm Yourself from the Inside
- Practice deep breathing. By breathing deeply your brain will get the oxygen it needs and the slower pace will trick your body into believing you are calmer.
- Have a glass of water handy. Take sips occasionally, especially when you want to emphasize a point.
- Smile – this is a natural relaxant that sends positive chemicals through your body.
- 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 right before you are ready to go on.