If you are someone who feels nervous before presentations, you are not alone. Presentation nervousness is very human and almost everyone with the exception of very experienced public speakers has a degree of anxiety before starting a presentation. But it is also true than unless you manage your nervousness, your anxiety will take over and show. No audience will ever be impressed by a nervous presenter no matter how great your content is….
Here are the 5 proven techniques for reducing anxiety and nervousness before your presentation starts:
1- Practice and Rehearse
Presentations are not just about words but also about a complete script. The script defines how you start, what comes in the middle, how you end the presentation, what kinds of questions might be asked and how you would answer these. Practice is the only way you can become so confident with your script that no one in the audience can match your expertise with that content and that script. In fact, you “internalize” the content and script so that it becomes yours. You own it. It is not something you read somewhere or just some idea that everyone already knows about. This is unique content, delivered in your own words and in your own unique way.
2- Arrive at the Venue Early
Be at the presentation venue much before the audience is there. This is your time to prepare the projector and your notes/handouts if any. You check out the room dimensions and the seating arrangements. You switch on a few of your slides to see if all is OK and perhaps you rehearse your opening to check the acoustics in the room. This is really about getting comfortable with the environment. Remind yourself that you own and control this space and that the audience will just be invited guests.
3- Get to Know The Audience Before You Start
When the audience starts to arrive, acknowledge their presence and smile and make some small talk. This is more for your benefit than it is for theirs because the idea is to let you realize that they are just like you and that they are not the enemy. The only enemy in the room is your own fear.
4- Relax, Breathe then Connect
When it is time to start, don’t jump into the content immediately. First, take a few seconds to look around and make eye contact with the audience, while you use this time to take a few deep breaths without the audience noticing. Moving around the room to get close to the members of the audience before you start will help to reduce the tension. Make a connection with the audience by asking a question like “how is everyone doing” or some form of greeting. Remind yourself that you have to talk to this audience almost as if this is a one-one conversation. You are not here to make a grandiose, formal speech.
5- Do Not Apologize About Your Inexperience in Presentations
Don’t ever say that you are new to presentations or expect to get safe passage or some brownie points from the audience by saying you are very nervous. The presentation is not about your speaking skills and you only reduce your credibility by doing this.
May your next presentation be anxiety-free! Remember, there is a very thin line between anxiety and anticipation. Choose to be excited about the opportunity to share your knowledge and enjoy the experience. When you enjoy your presentation, the impact on the audience will be much more positive.