Public speaking can be remarkably nerve-wracking even for the most seasoned presenter, but novice speakers can find it especially intimidating. Before they step on stage they may experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms like nausea, sweaty palms, anxiety, and feelings of panic. Though it is entirely normal to feel nervous before giving a presentation, newbies might feel overwhelmed by the intense pressure and anxiety. Fortunately, there are some tried and tested tips for managing your nerves so you can focus on delivering a powerful and engaging presentation.
Know Your Material
Nothing will exacerbate your nerves more than trying to give a presentation on a topic you aren’t well prepared for. Spend ample time preparing your presentation and be sure you know your subject well. Knowing exactly what you are going to say and how you are going to say it will boost your confidence and help combat those pre-presentation nerves.
We have all heard the familiar adage “Practice makes perfect” but there is certainly some truth to that saying. While practice might not guarantee a perfect presentation, it can help reduce feelings of nervousness. Practice your presentation several times before the big day. Rehearse in front of family, friends, and even a mirror. You should also record yourself and watch it back, making note of any areas that need improvement. Be sure to speak slow and clear and pay attention to your timing.
Check Out the Venue
If possible, visit the presentation venue ahead of time to see the room layout and check the available equipment and facilities. Test out audiovisual equipment and make sure you know how to work it so everything will run smoothly on your presentation day. Seeing the venue ahead of time will eliminate surprises and can help you visualize yourself in the space, which can help reduce feelings of nervousness.
Use Positive Visualization
Multiple studies have proven the effectiveness of positive visualization. When we imagine ourselves succeeding and doing well, we are more likely to do just that. Instead of thinking, “I’m going to mess up and embarrass myself,” imagine yourself listening to the applause of the audience after a successful presentation. Positive thoughts can be an incredibly effective way to calm your nerves.
Take Some Deep Breaths
When we get nervous, our muscles tighten and we might even find ourselves holding our breath. Breathing from your diaphragm can help to calm the nervous system by getting oxygen to your brain. Right before you present, take several deep breaths and allow oxygen to calm your body and relax those nerves.
Drink Some Water
Dry mouth is a common symptom of anxiety and can make it difficult to articulate clearly. This can increase your nerves right before you take the stage. Combat these nerves by drinking a glass of water a few minutes before you present. You might even keep a bottle of water close by in case your dry mouth returns while you are speaking.