By Amy Wolff – Distinction Communication
Most people have these reactions when speaking in front of a group. You’re not the only one!
I’m frequently asked what to do about these nerves, so here are my tips:
– Be practiced. This is the most effective tip! Don’t wing presentations. Of course that will make you nervous. Know your content. And take the time to practice your delivery (it matters more than you know, and it shows)!
– Wear good deodorant, and maybe even reapply before your presentation. No one wants to worry about that while they’re speaking.
– Stake out your spot. Whether it’s a stage, conference room, or classroom, get comfortable in your setting before people arrive. Notice where the chairs are, how much space you have to move up front, and make sure you do a tech check if you’re using a mic or technology.
– Take deep breaths before you begin. Take several. This will help slow your heart rate down, which will help eliminate voice quivers or talking too nervously/fast.
– Don’t go in ‘presentation mode’. Consider your presentation a series of one-on-one conversations with people in your audience, like you’re sharing information with them over coffee at Starbucks. This will appear more comfortable and conversational and feel less intimidating to you as a speaker.
– Don’t hold notes. Put them on a podium or table nearby. If your hands shake, no one will know! Even better, practice gestures in your presentation that utilize your hands instead of hiding them.
– Have a water bottle positioned near you while you speak. If you feel you’re getting off topic or down a rabbit trail (or God forbid you forgot what to say next), pause and take a sip of water while collecting your thoughts. Then continue strong. Your audience members won’t mind.
When you’re feeling anxious about your next presentation or speaking opportunity, remember that your audience wants you to succeed.
Be prepared. Shake out those nerves. And be yourself!