I’m a “ham” at heart so I love to get in front of an audience, big or small. But when it comes to an important presentation where I know I’ve got to make a good impression, I can feel the pre-presentation jitters creeping in. Over the years I’ve learned some practical steps to calm myself. Try these the next time you’ve got to make a “big” presentation.
- Know your stuff. The best way to keep the jitters at bay is to be well prepared. Practice your presentation in front of a friend and get some constructive feedback.
- Arrive early. Nothing adds more to your anxiety than rushing madly to get to your presentation on time. Check Google Maps for the best route from your place to the venue where you’ll be speaking.
- Do a room check. If possible, check out the room prior to your presentation. Make sure that the equipment you requested is in place and works. Is the seating arranged in a suitable manner for your talk? Is the room at a comfortable temperature?
- Mingle. I find this a real tension buster. If you have a chance, move about the room and introduce yourself to people who’ve come to hear you. When you get up to talk, you’ll feel that you’re talking to individuals, not a big, amorphous group.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Before starting your presentation, check your breathing. Chances are it’ll be somewhat shallow. Take several deliberate, deep, slow breaths and you’ll find it helps to relax you.
- Go slow. Nothing broadcasts nervousness more than a speaker who breathlessly rushes into his presentation and never stops. Be focused, deliberate, and slow at the outset.
I hope you’ll find these tips helpful. Let me know what you do to calm those pre-presentation jitters.
Photo by K. Nicoll