You are about to give an important presentation. With just minutes to go before you begin, your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty, and you are feeling the anxiety beginning to well up inside. The good news is that this is completely normal. Even the best presenters admit to having similar feelings moments before they take the stage. The adrenaline surge you are experiencing can actually fuel your body with the energy and enthusiasm needed to give a great performance. With that in mind, here are 3 important things you should always do right before a presentation.
Rehearse the First Minute in Your Mind
Assuming you have prepared a captivating opener, it is helpful to practice what you are going to say in your mind. Whether it is a witty quote, a personal story, or a startling statistic, knowing exactly how you are going to start your presentation will give you more confidence. If you nail your opener, you are already starting off on the right foot and are more likely to speak with confidence for the remainder of the presentation. When you are well-rehearsed in what you are going to say, you are more apt to make direct eye contact with the audience and this will create a more powerful first impression.
Talk Positively to Yourself
In the minutes leading up to your presentation, tell yourself over and over, “I am a dynamic speaker! I am prepared and confident! I am going to give a great presentation!” People who talk positively to themselves prior to performance consistently have better results. When you think positively, you can decrease stress and increase your sense of control. Replace thoughts of doubt and insecurity with positive statements. You might even write down a few affirming statements and read them over and over to yourself. You can learn to use your thoughts to positively influence your body’s physical responses.
Take Several Deep Breaths
Anxiety and nervousness tighten the muscles in the chest and throat. Therefore, it is important to diminish that effect by taking deep breaths. Taking several long, slow, inhalations will maximize the amount of oxygen that flows to the lungs and brain and helps trigger the body’s normal relaxation response. Right before you walk on stage, make sure you breathe deeply in order to relax your mind and body. It is also helpful to sip warm water, as this will help with dry-mouth and will clear your throat.
Whether you are stepping to the front of the room to speak in front of just a few people or you are preparing to address hundreds of people, these are three important things you should do to effectively make use of the 15 minutes prior to your presentation. It will help you to prepare your mind and body for peak performance.