What to do when... you're nervous before a presentation



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I have found that there is no better antidote to presentation nerves than being very well prepared.

When I've done my research, tailored my presentation to the audience, rehearsed and made sure there are not going to be any hitches with the technology - it makes a huge difference to how I feel before I stand up to speak.

However, no matter how well prepared you are - last minute nerves can sneak up on you. You forget you're opening line, get dry in the throat or start to question your entire presentation. Yep - these have all happened to me (and a few more as well!).

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to this but here are a number of tactics that I have found can really help:

1. Forget about the presentation and talk to people about a totally different subject. This can take your mind off the last minute panic worrying about things it's too late to to anything about anyway.

2. Have a cup of tea - or another beverage of your choosing but I've found tea works best for me. The pouring, stirring and sipping takes my mind off the upcoming presentation.

3. Make sure you have a glass of water handy - it gives you something to do before the presentation and you'll have the water if that pesky presentation frog appears in your throat once you stand up.

4. Take a deep breath - pace your breathing and the speed that you speak at - it will help you sound in control once you start presenting. If you slow down the pace before you start your formal presentation it will help you transition into your content.

5. Visual the end of the presentation and see yourself being given positive feedback. One of my favorite habits from Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' is "Begin with the End in Mind" and it certainly applies to presentations!

6. Smile - this is said to send positive chemicals through your body. If nothing else it keeps your mind off the presentation!

7. Take some time out to focus just on the presentation and not the gazillion other things you no doubt have on your plate that day as well.  A couple of hours before a presentation I like to get my hair blow-dryed - it gives me time away from everything else and I can either forget about the presentation completely or rehearse it mentally without any other distractions. And I feel more confident when I stand up - as at least I know my hair looks good!

They're a few of my techniques. Please share any others that you find work!

Let's chat
- Karen

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