No matter how polished some presenters appear, they probably get nervous at times. It just depends on the occasion and what’s at stake. Here are seven tips to calm nervousness during your presentations:
1. Prepare Well
Nothing builds confidence like solid preparation. Actually talking and walking through your presentation (not just running through it in your mind) lets you know the phrasing works, the transitions are effective, and the timing fits.
2. Internalize. Don’t Memorize.
The first few sentences of a presentation set the tone, so memorize your opening. But if you try to memorize your entire presentation then forget something and get off track, that only increase your nervousness. Instead, thoroughly understand and know how your content applies to your audience, then outline your key points to guide you.
3. Arrive Early
Visit with audience members prior to your talk. Ask their job functions and what they hope to learn from the presentation. Introduce audience members to each other. This interaction relaxes you and demonstrates your genuineness and approachability.
4. Find Your Fans
You’re usually most nervous at the beginning of a presentation, so immediately look around the room and find those friendly faces—people who are smiling, the audience members you met earlier. Avoid looking at people who are frowning. That’ll shake your confidence and you’ll find yourself trying to win them over. Instead, focus on the people who seem to be cheering you on.
5. Keep a Security Blanket
Most people worry about things that never happen. “What if I forget this illustration?” “What if I can’t remember the source of that study?” Calm your nerves by preparing a brief outline with key words and sentences to use as quick references. Just knowing it’s there will give you confidence.
6. Focus on the Value of Your Material
Stop fearful thoughts and remind yourself how people have benefitted from your past presentations. If you’ve done your research and are sharing accurate information, be confident knowing people will walk away with valuable insights from you.
Nervous presenters usually forget to breathe. So, if you hear that nervous, squeaky voice creeping in, take a moment to pause, breathe deeply, and exhale slowly. You’ll instantly feel yourself relax.
Remember nervousness is not your enemy. The adrenaline that comes with it can actually push you to peak performance if you let it work for you. So master it and the results will follow.