I deliver successful presentations for a living, and I have no problem admitting that it can be really hard sometimes ...
For those not born with natural eloquence, public speaking can be remarkably nerve-racking. We can't all do a TED talk or present like Steve Jobs, but there are several small things you can do that will help calm your nerve.
Below are 12 top tips I have learned over the years, many of them the actors I work with have shared with me, as they are the best people to learn from when it comes to dealing with nerves.
Steve Jobs said he spent 30 hours researching his audience, 30 hours creating the presentation and 30 hours rehearsing. Mind you, he was delivering the next big thing in technology! It can be difficult to find the time, but it is essential to calm nerves and build your confidence.
If possible try to practice where you'll be delivering your talk, find someone to give you some feedback if possible. Also, try recording your presentation and playing it back to evaluate which areas need work.
It may sound strange, but I'll often drink a strong coffee and listen to rock music in my earphones before presenting. Why? It gets me going and helps me turn, butterflies into focused enthusiasm.
We are all drawn to energetic presenters; even if you're an introvert you need enthusiasm and passion to engage the audience. I make sure that I'm as enthusiastic and energetic as possible before going on. Of course, individuals respond differently to caffeine overload, so know your own body before ordering that second cappuccino.
It's always best to allow yourself plenty of time to settle in before your presentation. Extra time ensures you won't be late and gives you plenty of scope to get adapted to your presentation space.
Adjust to Your Surroundings
The more adjusted to your environment you are, the more comfortable you'll feel. Make sure to spend some time in the room where you will be delivering your presentation.
If possible, practice with the microphone and lighting, make sure you understand the seating, and be aware of any distractions potentially posed by the venue (e.g., a noisy road outside or catering staff).
Do your best to meet people as they arrive. Talking with audiences makes you seem more likeable and approachable. Ask event attendees questions and take in their responses. They may even give you some inspiration to weave into your talk.
Whether or not you consider yourself a master of Zen, plenty of studies have proven that visualisation works. When we imagine a positive outcome to a scenario in our mind, it's more likely to play out the way we envision.
Instead of thinking "I'm going to be terrible out there" and visualising yourself throwing up mid-presentation, imagine yourself getting tons of laughs while presenting brilliantly. Positive thoughts can be incredibly effective-give them a go.
When we're nervous, our muscles tighten. You may even catch yourself holding your breath. Instead, go ahead and take those deep breaths to get oxygen to your brain and relax your body.
Smiling increases endorphins, replacing anxiety with a wave of calm, making you feel good about your presentation. Smiling also exhibits confidence and enthusiasm to the crowd. Just don't overdue it-no one enjoys the maniacal clown look.
When you're nervous, it's easy to speed up your speech and end up talking too fast, which in turn causes you to run out of breath, get more nervous, and panic! Ahh! Don't be afraid to slow down and use pauses in your presentation.
Pausing can be used to emphasise certain points and to help your talk feel more conversational. If you feel yourself losing control of your pacing, just take a short moment and keep your cool.
Practising confident body language is another way to boost your pre-presentation confidence. When your body is physically demonstrating confidence, your mind will follow suit.
While you don't want to be jutting out your chest in an alpha gorilla pose all afternoon, studies have shown that using power stances a few minutes before giving a talk creates a lasting sense of confidence and assurance. Whatever you do, don't sit-sitting is passive. Standing or walking a bit will help you harness those, butterflies.
Dry mouth is a common result of anxiety. Prevent cottonmouth blues by staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water before your talk Keep a bottle of water at arm's reach while presenting in case you get dry mouth.
Accept your fear rather than trying to fight it. Getting yourself worked up by wondering if people will notice your nervousness will only intensify your anxiety. Remember, those nervous aren't all bad it shows you care and it shows your human.
If you're interested in training that sticks for your brand, do call me on 01908 511 062 or leave a comment below and let's see how I can help you.