Imagine you have to make a presentation for a large group of people at work. How do you feel about this task? For many people, the thought of public speaking is terrifying. Their palms sweat, they go weak in the knees and feel dizzy. Their anxiety and nervousness make them forget their words.

This isn’t an unusual reaction.  After all, the thought of every expectant eye being on you can be daunting. In fact, even the most experienced speakers can feel nervous before making a speech or presentation.

Don’t be nervous about presenting. Remember, making a presentation is a skill just like any other.   The more you practice it, the more you will improve. Every great speaker was once a beginner who made mistakes. Manage your presentation nervousness and calm yourself if you feel anxious. Speaking effectively is an essential skill in modern workplaces. This includes making presentations and giving talks.

What Are Presentation Nerves?

Studies show that the fear of public speaking is very common. People fear being judged for what they are saying. They also fear making a mistake and embarrassing themselves in front of a large group of people. Other common worries related to speaking in public include fumbling one’s lines, forgetting what one needed to say, and making an unimpressive presentation. These fears are the reason behind 'presentation nerves'.

If the thought of making a presentation makes your stomach churn, don’t worry. You are not alone. Presentation nervousness is rooted in a physical reaction. The human body prepares for upcoming danger by releasing chemicals and hormones that help it deal with stress or danger efficiently. Those who get presentation nerves are simply experiencing a manifestation of this physical function. 

If you are wondering how to calm your nerves before a presentation, read on. 

How To Stay Calm Before A Presentation

The secret to staying calm when making a presentation is in preparing well for it. Here are some things you should do in advance to calm your presentation nerves and deliver a confident and impactful presentation:

1. Prepare the Deck or Slides in Advance

Don’t wait until the last minute to begin creating the presentation. This will only add to your anxiety. As soon as you are given the task of making a presentation, get to work. Gather your data, plan your slides, and keep tweaking your deck until your presentation flows smoothly. Familiarize yourself with your material so that your delivery is effortless. Be prepared for any questions or challenges to your arguments. This will help you build confidence and reduce your presentation nervousness. 

2. Rehearse Your Presentation

If you feel worried about making your presentation even after thorough preparation, it might be a good idea to rehearse it a few times. Once you have rehearsed your presentation, the task no longer feels like an extremely difficult task to carry out. Rather, it is something you have already done before. Rehearsing with a colleague or a friend has a host of benefits. They can encourage you and give you constructive feedback. This will calm your presentation nerves. 

3. Get Ample Rest

If you want to be calm and composed before a presentation, you must be well-rested. With a good night’s rest and filling breakfast, you will feel much better. Don’t let your presentation nervousness keep you up all night rehearsing. Remember, once you have prepared enough, you need to be well-rested. This will give you the energy you need to make an impactful presentation. 

Tools To Reduce Presentation Nervousness

Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course has tools and frameworks to help you improve your verbal communication skills. The PAM–Purpose, Audience, Message–Framework will help you structure your message and tailor it to fit the audience and context. Here’s how to use it to quash your presentation nerves:

1. Determine Your Purpose

Knowing your purpose behind presenting will help you stay focused while you speak. Make sure you have a clear idea about the idea, action or theory you are proposing. Plan the route that you will take to make your points and know what comes after what.

2. Know Your Audience

Presentations vary based on the audience. Are you presenting to your peers, seniors, or clients? Your style, tone and delivery will depend on this crucial aspect. Before you begin a formal presentation make sure you introduce yourself and state the purpose of the presentation. On the other hand, if you are making a presentation to your peers within the organization, you could begin informally with a friendly introduction or even a humorous remark to break the ice.

3. Craft an Appropriate Message

Once you know your purpose and audience, you can create an appropriate message. Knowing that your message aligns with the audience and serves your purpose will calm you down and give you the confidence you need to present fearlessly.

How To Stay Calm While Presenting

Sometimes, even when an individual is completely prepared with their notes, slides, speaking points, and research, they can still experience presentation nerves. Speaking in front of a lot of people might be difficult for a few people, and that is okay. Here’s what you should do to remain calm while you are speaking:

1. Take Deep Breaths

Breathing exercises are the best answer to the question “How to calm down before a presentation”. Deep breathing with slow inhales and equally slow exhales will help you relax and reboot your mind. The simple act of breathing mindfully can release ‘feel-good’ hormones that will equip you to deal with any stress.

2. Use Body Language

Use body language that conveys confidence, friendliness, and calmness even if you are feeling anxious. Smile often. When you smile, two things happen. Your body relaxes, which calms you down. Your audience sees you smiling and mirrors your expression. You suddenly see a sea of smiling, friendly faces. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Similarly, stand straight and loosen your tense muscles. This will make you feel calm and composed.

3. Don’t Panic

Ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen if you made a mistake while presenting?  The answer is, not much. If you make a mistake or forget your point, it isn’t the end of the world. You can always correct yourself or calmly bring up the point you had missed and continue. Don’t fear mistakes–they are the path to success. When you make a mistake, don’t panic. Stay calm and fix it. Remember, you are in control of your presentation.

Conclusion

It’s normal to feel nervous before making a presentation. Just make sure your nervousness doesn’t hamper your ability to speak well. Stop your mind from running in loops and stressing about the presentation. Tell yourself that you’ve got everything under control.

Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course has tips on public speaking from world-class educators. Sign up for the course today to learn how you can deliver a pitch-perfect presentation!


Explore topics such as Stress ManagementHow to Deal With Failure & How to Handle Pressure from our Harappa Diaries section and cope with presentation nervousness.

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