Five Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before an Important Presentation
When it is your turn to be front and center, fear, anxiety, doubt, and even despair can loom. Unless you are a born presenter or an old pro, presenting to a group, no matter the size, can be daunting.
But that is no reason to hide in the shadows allowing a colleague to steal your thunder. You can do this, as long as you calm your nerves to let your confidence, charisma, and intellect shine through.
These five tips will help you to de-stress, so you can impress! Take your time to work on your woes and worries so when the big day comes, you will be on-the-ball with a successful performance.
Rehearse and Practice
Just like an actor preparing for a role or a teacher preparing her weekly lesson plans, there is preliminary work that goes into doing a stellar job. Practice your presentation and hone in on the important points, cut out the unnecessary jargon, and then do it all again. If you can find someone willing to sit in on your "rehearsal," even better. Get their feedback and rework if needed.
Inc. recommends, "Write your speech rather than taking chances winging it. Try to practice where you'll be delivering your talk. Some acting strategists suggest rehearsing lines in various positions–standing up, sitting down, with arms open wide, (etc.). The more you mix up your position and setting, the more comfortable you'll feel with your speech. Also try recording your presentation and playing it back to evaluate which areas need work.
Be the Early Bird
You don't need to further add to your stress by getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Leave the house extra-early on presentation day so you are sure to arrive at the office with plenty of time to settle in, have some coffee, and go through your notes one last time.
As Youpersuggests, "(Get) comfortable with the location and the audience. Walk around, pay attention to the layout of the room, and look for things that could potentially distract you. This will help you feel more comfortable because you'll extinguish the initial tension of being in a new place. (Take) the opportunity to talk to a few people that will be in the audience, so you don't feel like you are presenting to strangers."
Remember to Breathe
Of course, you won't stop breathing, but doing so purposefully can work wonders on calming you down and allowing you to focus. As Inc. notes, "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."
Youper adds another potential breathing bummer, "When you get anxious your breathing gets faster. Progressively slowing down helps match your breathing from the start and ease you into a calmer state as the rhythm slows."
Just like meditation teaches, be mindful of your breathing until you are steady and secure. Do this at least 15 minutes before it is time to present so your mind is clear and your body is balanced.
Drink Up… Water, That Is
It is always important to stay well-hydrated, but before you need to talk for an extended period of time, a moist mouth is a life-saver. A parched presenter is hard to swallow, so to speak.
As per Quick and Dirty Tips, "Dry mouth, also known as cotton mouth, is a very real sign of anxiety and the person experiencing it is suffering." Even if you are a bundle of nerves, you do not have to let 'em see you sweat.
Keep a water bottle by your side to refresh in between points.
Embrace Your Emotions
Take that nervous energy and transform it into something positive. You will be excited in some way or another, so use this adrenaline rush to make your presentation electrifying.
Like Quick and Dirty Tips notes, "Getting the blood pumping sharpens your senses sand makes you more aware of what's going on around you. Use that extra energy to engage your audience, and to show your passion."
Rather than dwelling on what may go wrong, use your energy to imagine a successful presentation. As per Youper, "Visualize members of the audience thanking you, or colleagues congratulating you. These positive images help manifest a positive attitude, and that will show while you are speaking."