Fighting Nerves

Fight Presentation Nerves

 If this is a Zoom presentation, go on the Zoom site a few minutes early and start chatting with people as they sign on. Just that chat will calm you down. This is like stretching before exercising.

 If someone asks you what you’re going to be talking about, tell them an abbreviated version of the opening.  It will make you much more comfortable and confident about the presentation, and you’ll have friendly faces in the audience who will encourage you.

Don’t jump into the PowerPoint immediately.  When you are ready to begin, give a casual opening about what they will see and why, then bring up the PowerPoint.  This allows you to connect with the audience further.

Fear of Public Speaking

People fear speaking in public more than death. (I’ve seen both things happen simultaneously in my workshops)

I have a theory based on my own speaking experiences. When I know the material, when I know everything about the material, I’m a pretty good presenter.  But, when I’ve memorized the presentation, then I’m nervous.  There’s a big difference between knowing and memorizing.

I get to know the material by discussing it, reviewing it, reworking it in rehearsals and presenting it over and over again —without a script—until I know it in my bones. I focus on the opening, because if I can get past that smoothly, the rest is cake.

One of the best techniques you can use to calm down is if this is a Zoom meeting, record your rehearsal.  That will actually make you more confident because most people see that they are already pretty good at this.

How to Be Less Nervous When Presenting

Here is a crazy tip for controlling your fears when presenting.  This technique will sound nuts, but it works.

When I wear a suit jacket or sport jacket, I’m less nervous. The jacket makes me feel grown-up and smart and protected. When I’m confident, I’m less nervous.

Before you speak, have a drink

When we get up to speak it’s not unusual to become dry-mouthed from the anxiety of being in front of a group.  Take a glass or bottle of water with you, or have a long sip before you speak.  When your mouth is dry it sets off a chain reaction of negative vibes.  Having water with you is also a good way to take a pause without looking like you’re lost.

Use a Conversational Open to Relax Yourself

We all get stage fright when making a presentation.  Fortunately, for most of us that nervousness can be controlled.

One trick to relax yourself is to use a conversational anecdote as a opening.  For example, perhaps you are at a conference and you’re the next speaker.  In your open you can talk about the general chatter that you’re hearing, or some famous celebrity you bumped into.  It’s not long open, perhaps 3 or 4 sentences, but it is enough to relax you so that when you launch into your real opening you are less nervous.

The nice thing about the conversational open is that it is usually of interest to the audience. As long as it doesn’t go on and on.

Any kind of talking prior to going up to the podium will also be a big help in relaxing you.  Just chatting with people in the audience, particularly about what you will be presenting, will make you more calm.  And, don’t forget to smile and use good posture. These are physical signs from your body to your brain that you are feeling confident.

How to Handle Presentation Nerves?

Everyone is nervous when making a presentation.  Everyone.  The question is how do you handle that anxiety.

try to be funny, which always gets me into trouble. Others talk non-stop, become repetitious, laugh at almost anything, speak very slowly, speak very quickly.

Get feedback from others on what you do. The next time you notice yourself doing it… pause. Take a few slow, rhythmic breaths and get back on your game.

For more tips on controlling nerves in a presentation, go to:

A System for Controlling Your Nerves

Calm your sense of fear with slow, deliberate breaths.  Slower rhythm is better than deep breathing.  If you practice that every time you feel anxious (whether making a presentation or not) it will become a great tool to calm you down when you need to.

The Stage Fright Domino Effect

Everyone experiences anxiety when speaking in front of others.  Sometimes that anxiety can snowball.  We speak faster when nervous, which signals a heightened level of anxiety to the brain which makes us forget points to cover which makes us more uneasy.

When you feel the events starting to slip away, technique can help.  Slow down. Stand up straight. Look at everyone and smile. This tells your system you are back in control and to relax.

Presentations for Introverts

Introverts really do have a more difficult time making presentations but there are a few tips that would serve them well: Rehearse thoroughly.  Don’t go off script. Don’t ad lib. Start with a story.

One of the problems introverted speakers have is they read and react too much to the audiences’ facial expressions.  Just stay on script.

Signed, Jack (an introvert)

Stage Fright

The best advice to combat stage fright is to know the opening of your presentation better than you know your own name.  Know the opening like you know the Pledge of Allegiance, for example. It will give you incredible confidence and a lot less anxiety.

But, that’s only part of the story.  More….

Three Crazy Ways to Control  Presentation Jitters

1) Got presentation jitters? Blow on your thumb. “The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing,” says Ben Abo, an emergency medical-services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’ll get your heart rate back to normal.”From Men’s Health Magazine

2) Chew gum.  The activity seems to calm you down.  Just be sure to spit it out prior to show time. 

3) Curl your toes. You read this correctly.  It switches you attention from that which is making you nervous. I’ve heard back from my students it really works.

Stage Fright Starts the Night Before

For many people, stage fright starts the night before your presentation as you conjure up horror stories of what could go wrong.

When you realize you’re doing that, stop yourself.  Don’t let your nerves undermine your presentation and confidence.  Visualize success instead. See yourself wowing the audience.

Another Cause of Stage Fright

 The Spotlight Effect is that you believe everyone is hanging on your every word so that when you say the wrong thing the audience will be critical.  Reality: The audience doesn’t listen that closely. Ever.

Science-based Way To Handle Nerves in a Presentation

Feeling nervous? Don’t bother calming down. You’re better off getting excited, according to a new study from Harvard Business School.

Participants in several anxiety-inducing experiments consistently performed better when prompted to get excited rather than to relax, the study found. For example, people told to say “I am excited” before delivering a public speech gave longer, more competent presentations and appeared more relaxed than speakers told to say “I am calm.” The shift from anxiety to excitement may be eased by the fact that both are highly aroused states, suggested the author of the study, published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Passion Controls Nerves

When you speak with passion, it’s likely that you’ll feel less nervous.

Take whatever you are presenting and start with the part that you are most passionate about.  You’ll be less nervous and the audience will be more attuned.

This Is Not Acting

When you are acting, it is important to remember your lines and know your partners lines so you know when to step in.  In giving a presentation, don’t memorize your lines. It’s a conversation.  If you say the wrong things most people won’t even notice. 

 Boo! A Halloween Tip

One of the fascinating things about public speaking is that when shy speakers are asked to wear a mask, they become dynamic speakers. They lose their inhibitions and turn on their passion.

The challenge for all of us is to wear a mask to every business presentation without anyone knowing.