How to Get Control of Your Pre-Presentation Jitters.

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 jittersmake 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

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6 Responses to How to Get Control of Your Pre-Presentation Jitters.

  1. Dan, great piece. I used to have these jitters but joined toastmasters. It was a gerat experience for me and recommend it to anyone having a fear of talking to groups.

    Very Warmly,

    Andy Rosen, Personal Life Historian
    Audio Biographies for You and Your Loved Ones, LLC

    Tucson, AZ
    520-237-6470
    arosen2@cox.net
    http://www.audiobiographies4U.com
    Facebook me at keyword search, “Andy Rosen, Tucson”

    Dedicated to recording you or your loved one’s life story with respect and integrity.

  2. Great suggestions, Dan! I think your first point, Know Your Stuff, is top, but the rest are essential support for helping you persuade your audience that you Know Your Stuff.

    Here are a couple of other things I find helpful.

    First, I interpret my jitters as excitement. I’m looking forward to sharing my passion for my topic with my audience, and I know they’re looking forward to hearing me. Why wouldn’t I be excited about such a great opportunity?

    Second, I engage my audience right off the bat – maybe tell them a story and then invite them to share their own relevant experiences, maybe ask them a question that will solicit thought-provoking answers. This identifies the presentation as a team effort where all of us are responsible for making the most of the occasion.

    Third, I think of my audience as my allies, not my enemies. They have as much at stake as I do in ensuring that the presentation goes well. They want me to succeed because they want to leave the presentation feeling that it was worthwhile being there. I choose to feel that I am among friends and trust that I can count on them to help me achieve that goal.

    You can see why I love making presentations!

  3. I’ll take the last tip. hehe. I think this is very applicable to me. I tend to talk fast and the result is I lose my train of thought. *sigh*

    By the way, I found this site, http://ripestuff.com/theRipeWorkshopComm.htm#presentation. For more tips. ^ ^

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