Whether you are delivering to your colleagues during a team meeting, hosting a seminar for professional development, or delivering the keynote at a big conference, there are things you can do beforehand to ensure your presentation is a success. Giving a successful presentation is no easy feat, and there is a ton of preparation that goes on behind the scenes. A stellar presentation takes a lot of time and energy, but here are a few tips and tricks to help you better prepare and calm your nerves before your next presentation.
Know Your Audience
Who are they and why are they there? If you are clear about who is attending your presentation and what their motivation is for doing so, you can build a presentation that meets their needs. For example, giving a presentation to new hires is vastly different from presenting to a board of directors. Likewise, presenting to a group of millennials is far different than speaking to a room of baby boomers. Even if you are presenting the same topic more than once, no two presentations should be the same. They should be tailored to the specific audience in a way that will appeal to them.
Practice Your Delivery
You will likely have a few notes and maybe even a slideshow that will act as a guide, but you still need to practice and rehearse so you are confident when you take the stage. Record yourself giving the presentation and give yourself an honest critique. Pay attention to things like body language, voice tone, and eye contact. You should also practice in front of a friend or family member that can provide honest feedback. The best way to guarantee that your presentation is a success is to practice, practice, practice!
Dress the Part
Every single part of a presentation is important, including what you wear. Your attire should not only match the audience that you are speaking to, but it should convey the message that you are a professional. Take time to select the right outfit and try it on before the big day to make sure everything looks and fits correctly.
Talk Positively to Yourself
It is normal to be nervous before a presentation but there are things you can do to alleviate some of your presentation anxiety. In the minutes leading up to your presentation, talk positively to yourself by saying things like, “I am enthusiastic and engaging.” “I am prepared and confident.” “I am going to do a great job.” These self affirmations are proven to create a higher success rate.
Take Several Deep Breaths
Nervousness and anxiety tighten the muscles in the chest and throat, so it’s important to diminish this restrictive feeling with some deep inhalations. In addition, long, slow breaths maximize the amount of oxygen that flows to the lungs and brain and helps to curb that ‘fight or flight’ response. Deep and deliberate breathing can help to reduce anxiety and calm you down before you step in front of the audience.