How do you feel before you have to give a presentation or speak in public? Get a little nervous or sweaty? Feel a little nauseous?
Or maybe, like me, you have to run to the bathroom 20 times even though you don't really need to!
It's OK to be nervous. That extra adrenaline can give you the energy you need to nail the presentation and exude enthusiasm.
But if your fears of speaking live are stopping you from giving any presentations, then you need to get over it somehow.
You're going to have to give some form of presentation at various points in your business life, even if it's on the virtual stage of a webinar. It's an essential part of building your credibility, connecting with your target market, and becoming a recognized expert who people trust and want to buy from.
So how can you overcome your fear of public speaking and give presentations that engage…. without having a pseudo nervous breakdown each time?
Luckily, there are proven tips that anyone can implement and which will get easier and easier to do as time goes on.
Tip 1. Prepare
If you've done your background research and know your audience and their needs, you'll be able to do a great job of preparing content that engages and answering your audience's questions when they arise.
Know what your audience wants to get out of your presentation and what your own goals are. Think of some stories that they can relate to. Plan a few questions you can throw out at times to break the ice in the beginning of your presentations and re-engage your audience periodically.
Then make sure your presentation is clearly organized and focused on your audience's needs. Don't make things overly complicated, especially if you're nervous. You can stick with this classic outline:
- Are you in the right place? (here's what I'm going to talk about and how you benefit)
- Who I am and why I'm qualified to talk about this (with a story, if possible)
- Topic 1 (3 key points)
- Topic 2 (3 key points)
- Topic 3 (3 key points)
- Summary (what you learned and benefits of taking action)
- Offer and benefits (if relevant)
- Call to Action (what to do next)
Finally, make sure you've tested everything in advance. There's nothing more anxiety-inducing or distracting than starting your presentation and having the sound cut off, the slides cut out, or the video or webinar platform fail entirely.
Tip 2: Visualize
Picture the people in your audience and the entire environment where you'll be presenting, even if it's in the safety of your own office in front of a computer screen. If you're going to be in a venue, see if you can visit it in advance and walk around, picturing yourself giving your presentation.
Next, visualize yourself speaking and interacting with audience members. How will you feel? How will you sound? Picture yourself feeling confident and speaking with authority.
Now try visualizing something going wrong. What will you say and do? Picture yourself reacting calmly. What words will you use? What will you say if you can't answer a question right away?
The more you visualize your presentation and feel your confidence in advance, the more that reality will show up at the time you go live. And if there's something you can't visualize in advance, do some research to figure out why and to get the information you need.
Tip 3: Practice
Even if you're not memorizing a speech, the more you practice, the easier it will be to calm your nerves when you're actually giving your presentation.
Follow these tips for when you practice:
- Know your content cold. If there's anything you stumble over, go back and do more research or edit to make sure you're only talking about things you know.
- Practice in front of a mirror to see how you look when speaking.
- Speak more slowly than you normally would since nerves tend to speed up your speech.
- Practice taking slow, deep breaths – especially before you begin. Most people tend to breath shallowly at the best of times, and that only gets worse when you're anxious.
- Try practicing in front of a friend or family member who knows you well. Do you sound like yourself? Are you doing anything distracting?
- If you can't get a person to practice for, record yourself on video and play it back for yourself. You'll be surprised at some of the little gestures, stances, and verbal distractions you might be making.
Still nervous? Try doing a ‘power pose' a few minutes before you start your presentation. In fact, try doing one every day to increase your confidence level. Here's a great TED talk from Amy Cuddy where she talks about how your body language affects how others see you:
When you practice your presentation, make sure you stand in that ‘posture of confidence' even if you don't feel that way. Then, when it comes to giving your live presentation, you'll subconsciously associate the presentation with a feeling of confidence.
And that's when the pizzazz really starts to kick in for all your presentations!
Do you have any favorite tips for overcoming presentation jitters? Please share below in the comments 🙂
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