Being as familiar as you can with your presentation will go a long way to reducing anxiety. Plan your presentation well in advance – it’s then in your head to think about in your spare moments. Always rehearse your presentation, even if only in your living room at home. Rehearsal helps put your performance ‘in the muscle’. It helps you feel that you’ve been there before - a powerful antidote to fear. Rehearsal is particularly important if you are having to present someone else’s presentation – it really is time well spent.
“Rehearsal is the work – performance is the relaxation.”
Michael Cain, British film and theatre actor
Visit the venue beforehand if you can. Familiarity of your ‘stage’ or presentation space will help reduce your fears. Stand where you will stand, walk through your moves and speak at your performance level voice. You can then visualise yourself doing the presentation in situ. – reinforcing familiarity. If you can’t visit beforehand, arrive very early to practise.
Manage your fears and anxieties by learning calming techniques. There are plenty of choices from the worlds of yoga, NLP, performing, meditation, hypnosis etc. Find something that you are comfortable with. Learning how to take control of your personal state is an invaluable skill which can have powerful results.
Keep good thoughts uppermost in your mind. Think of previous presentations that went well, or occasions when you felt good about yourself. Re-running these thoughts in your head will help you feel positive. Keep uppermost in your mind that you are the expert and really do have something interesting to say. Focus your approach around sharing your ideas with your audience and wanting them to understand and enjoy. This will stop your worrying about being judged by them. Remember, most people in your audience really are on your side and want to learn something.
Take the ‘do something about it’ attitude. This may require you to learn new skills or seek out training or coaching from a specialist. Try to identify what aspect of your presenting gives you the most anxiety. Professional techniques will give you practical confidence building strategies. Start with learning to breathe deeply. Low, slow breathing significantly reduces anxieties. It helps release endorphins – your chemical calmer-downers. Use this breathing technique as part of your personal preparation.
Hearing your voice wobble or drone monotonously only reinforces fear. So do the opposite. Project your voice three times louder than you feel is necessary and speak with passion, enthusiasm and energy. This is to make you feel more confident. Before your presentation do some purposeful humming to warm-up your voice.
Our anxieties can overpower our rationality. Ask yourself – what’s the worst that could happen? Is anybody going to die? In the great scheme of things would it really matter if I wasn’t so good?
When we are in the spotlight we become ‘self-conscious’. This can cause us to worry about what people are thinking about us. Counteract this by making sure you feel good about yourself – stand straight, wear something special, take a ‘special occasion’ approach.
So often work presentations are taken too seriously both in their content and in the presenter’s manner and performance. Consequently they can be a rather boring experience. The more you can engage with your audience using your natural personality, the more you will feel at ease. Think about how you can put your own stamp on your presentations, rather than copy what everyone else does. You might even enjoy it!
Our anxieties stem from exposing our vulnerability in front of the audience – so find ways to engage with your audience as individuals, particularly at the very start. Do what you can to get them on your side before you start. If you can mingle with them as they arrive - tell them you are presenting, ask them if there are any ideas they would like you to address (you can easily slip in little comments and references to these conversations). As the presenter, approach your role as that of the host – as if you have personally invited them to your home. Take responsibility for their enjoyment - give them a good time!
You Wouldn't Believe It - The famous people who struggle with nerves and confidence.
Success Strategies - Famous peoples’ successful strategies to reduce their nerves
We Can Overcome – The 6 Big Fears and how to tackle them – coming soon
All our coaching programmes and courses will address your personal confidence. We will build on your strengths and give you realistic strategies to apply to your work and life. We are happy to speak with you to see how we can help you overcome your anxieties. See The Confident Presenter or Our Services to give you more of an idea of our approach.