You are scheduled to give a big presentation and you have just a few minutes before it’s time to step on stage. Your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty, and you begin to feel those nerves. Though it is completely normal for speakers to feel nervous in the moments leading up to a presentation, you should aim to leverage those fears. Whether you are stepping in front of the room to address a small crowd of your peers or you are making a grand entrance to address hundreds, here are five things you can do to prepare yourself just before you take the stage.
Test the Equipment
If you plan to use any technology or equipment during your presentation such as a microphone, laptop, speakers, or projector screen, arrive a few minutes early to test the equipment. You want to make sure everything is in working order so there are no surprises once you start. Whenever you are dealing with technology and audiovisual equipment there is always the chance that things could go wrong, and this will only intensify your stress. So, double-check any and all equipment just before you take the stage.
Take Some Deep Breaths
Anyone who is about to step on stage for a big presentation is bound to be nervous and this anxiety causes the muscles in the chest and throat to tighten. That’s why it can be extremely beneficial to take several long, slow, deep breaths. These deep inhalations will allow more oxygen to flow to the lungs and brain, triggering the body’s relaxation response.
Psychology experts agree that positive self-talk prior to and during a performance consistently leads to better results. In the minutes leading up to your presentation, get those positive vibes flowing by telling yourself, “ I am intelligent and engaging,” “I am prepared and confident,” and “I can do this!” These self-affirmations will actually help you deliver real world confidence.
Mentally Practice the First Minute
About 15 minutes prior to taking the stage, it’s a good idea to mentally rehearse your opener. Go over your first few sentences several times in your head so you can feel confident about exactly what you will say right from the start. A strong opening can give you the confidence needed to pull through the rest of the presentation.
Nerves and anxiety can cause dry mouth, so it’s important to hydrate right before you begin. It is best to drink warm or room temperature water with lemon, as this helps cut through mucus buildup in the mouth and clears the throat. Avoid cold water, soft drinks, and dairy products prior to your presentation.