For most of us, presenting is not a natural activity so our nerves tend to be heightened before a presentation. This can make presenters anxious and frazzled and can affect their ability to present well. While it’s impossible to get rid of these nerves entirely, there are things you can do to minimize stress and relax your nerves before a big presentation.
1. Muscle Relaxation
Muscle tension is one of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety. When people experience nervousness before a presentation they may feel the tension in various parts of their body such as their neck and shoulders. There are things you can do to relieve some of this muscle tension and help relax your body such as taking a hot shower, getting a massage, stretching, and holding the tense muscles for a few seconds each and then relaxing them.
Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that can make you relax and feel better. This doesn’t mean you should put in a strenuous workout just before you speak, but rather focus on exercising on a regular basis. It’s a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind each day.
3. Deep Breathing
When people get nervous before a presentation, breathing can be a great relaxation technique. Deep breathing releases fear, lowers stress levels, and can even enhance your speaking voice. There are many variations of deep breathing exercises but the most common is to breathe in through your nose, let your diaphragm rise, hold the breath, and then slowly breathe out. You can repeat this multiple times before you present.
There are a number of studies that have proven the effectiveness of positive visualization or mental imagery. When we imagine a positive outcome to a scenario in our mind, that scenario is more likely to happen the way we envision it. Instead of thinking negative thoughts and worrying that you will mess up, you imagine yourself delivering a powerful presentation with a fantastic audience reaction.
There is no doubt that rehearsing your presentation several times is one of the best ways to relax your nerves. You can even take this technique a step further by practicing your presentation at the place where you will present. This allows you to get familiar with the layout of the room and even rehearse how you will stand and move during your presentation.
6. Arrive Early
It always helps presenters to relax when they arrive early and give themselves plenty of time to settle in before they talk. This extra time ensures you won’t be late and it also gives you time to get comfortable with your surroundings before you present.
7. Dress Professionally and Comfortably
Your clothing can have a bigger impact on your nerves than you might think. If you are uncomfortable in your clothes or shoes, you might be worrying about how you will present in something that is restrictive or uncomfortable. This can intensify your stress because you will be second-guessing why you chose that outfit. You also don’t want to be worrying about tripping in high heels. It is important to dress professionally but you also want to choose an outfit that is comfortable. Having comfortable clothing will help you relax before you talk.
8. Drink Water
Many people who get nervous will also experience dry mouth. You can prevent added anxiety from cottonmouth by hydrating and drinking plenty of water before you talk. This will help calm your nerves and enhance your speaking voice.
9. Keep Your Normal Routine
If you stick to your normal daily routine, this will help you to remain calm. You are more comfortable doing things that are normal so it’s best to keep your day as typical as possible. Changing up your entire day and doing something out of the ordinary can increase anxiety.
Meditation is a great way to calm your nerves and relax. However, this technique works best when it has been practiced over a period of time. Meditating just a day or two before your presentation might not be too effective. You should begin doing this well in advance of your presentation and let it be a tool for relaxing on a regular basis.