Home » Business » Presentation

Tackle Your Fear of Public Speaking - Overcoming Pre-Presentation Jitters

Aug 17, 2007
There is nothing more impressive that an eloquent public speaker. Confident, well-versed and in-control, he makes it look easy, doesn't he? But we all know it's not as easy as it looks.

It is a very natural reaction to become nervous before a presentation. This is basically because it is very unnatural to put yourself in the vulnerable position of standing before a large group of people who will judge you and what you say (which is really an extension of you, isn't it?).

It's okay to be nervous - as long as your audience never finds out! Follow these tips to overcome nervousness and build confidence:

Before your audience arrives

1. Be prepared

This should not be the first time you deliver your presentation. A very thorough understanding of the topic and how you want to present it is necessary for success.

Have a general outline of what you want to say, and know exactly how you want to deliver it before standing up in front of your audience. The more prepared you are, the fewer reasons you have for being nervous.

2. Get comfortable with your surroundings

Always be the first one to arrive at the place where you are presenting. Even if it is the company boardroom that you've been in a thousand times, spend some time standing at the front of the room. Envision people in the chairs looking at you. If you know the people attending your presentation, envision their faces. Get comfortable with this image.

Make sure the room is set up the way you want it to be. Move furniture appropriately and make sure there aren't any traps - cables you might trip over, tables you could bump into, etc.

The more comfortable you are with your surroundings, the more relaxed you will be able to be.

3. Set up your presentation

Make sure your computer is working, set up Power Point, place participant materials, name cards, bottles of water, etc. at each person's place. Make sure that everything is ready to go so you can focus on your audience when they arrive.

4. Take a deep breath and stop fidgeting

Take a deep breath, meditate, go to your happy place - do whatever you need to do and whatever works for you to relax. Do this before your audience arrives or in a place removed from your audience - don't roll out your yoga mat on stage.

Also be aware of your nervous habits. Stop playing with your hair, tapping your foot, biting your lip, wringing your hands, straightening your suit, etc. Your audience should only see the relaxed, confident, professional you.

If you think you don't have any nervous habits, video record one of your presentations. You may be surprised by what you see. Make a conscious effort to identify your own habits and put an end to them.

When your audience arrives

1. Create a friendly environment

When the audience begins arriving, the nerves go into overdrive. Combat this natural force by creating a safe and friendly environment.

Depending on the size of the audience, greet each participant individually and casually chat with the group. With larger groups, circulate and socialize with smaller groups of audience members.

Small talk will get your mind off of your nerves and make you feel more comfortable with the people that are there. It will also make your audience feel more at ease and leave them with a good first impression of you!

2. Give yourself a pep talk

Take a moment to prepare yourself mentally before you begin. This mental preparation could start as early as when you get out of bed the morning of the presentation, or it could be a quick pep talk just before you begin.

Remind yourself that there is a reason why you have been asked to speak - you have something very important to say! The sooner you really believe this, the better.

Everyone there wants to listen to what you have to say. They're on your side, and want you to succeed. It is a safe environment filled with friendly professionals who can't wait to hear what you have to say.

These things may or may not be true (generally they are, but there are of course exceptions to the rule) - it doesn't matter. It's about building confidence and making you feel more comfortable. The more you believe you have something important to say, the easier it is to convince your audience. It will be natural and obvious to them.

3. Find your biggest fan

In every audience there is at least one person that stands out as a "supporter." You may have identified the person during pre-presentation small talk, it could be a colleague who is a good friend, or it could just be a "head-nodder" (one of those people who really reacts to presenters by nodding his head, taking notes, and generally being very supportive).

These people are your biggest fans. If you're feeling nervous as you begin to speak, or if you run into problems during the presentation, focus on these individuals. No matter what happens, they will continue to smile and nod their heads, giving you that extra push you need to get through.

4. Take one last deep breath, smile and begin!
About the Author
Heather Hansen, founder of Singapore-based Hansen Speech & Language Training, is an executive speech and language coach, writer and trainer. Become a star speaker! Visit her website www.hansenslt.com now for free information on how to speak clearly, correctly and confidently! Join her mailing list to receive your free special report, and as a special bonus you'll also receive her monthly newsletter, Speak like a Star!
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 242
Print Email Share
Article Categories