How to Calm Nerves Before a Presentation

How to Calm Nerves Before a Presentation

It’s always a struggle for many of us to calm nerves before a presentation.  One of the reasons is we don’t take time to prepare enough before delivering our presentation.   

Is it Normal to Be Nervous Before a Presentation?

Yes, it is normal to be nervous before a presentation.  There are many great presenters who can present on anything.  But being a great presenter doesn’t mean you can’t get nervous.  In fact, most people who present well admit to getting nervous before and during their presentations. 

I’ve been making presentations for years, but like others, I still get edgy despite always looking confident in front of the audience.        

We work hard inside ourselves to show that high level of confidence.  You can compare many of us to a duck on water.  It looks so relaxed when gliding smoothly on the surface of the water. But beneath it paddles very hard.  We put in much effort to contain those nerves that are very hard to get rid of.

Understand that, people who don’t worry about presenting in front of an audience, prepare a lot to keep calm nerves before a presentation.  You too can do it but needs a bit of work by following the:

9 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before a Presentation

1. Be Yourself 

Stop being a professional and start to be yourself. Pinpoint exactly what causes the nerves and then work on it.  Maybe you’re not really worried about presenting but scared of humiliating yourself?  Be aware that whatever you’re scared of doesn’t make you more successful.  It just holds you back and leaves you in situations that you don’t want to be in.  

2. Know the Topic

One of the techniques to make a good presentation is knowing the topic very well. It’s very important to master the presentation subject. So that when you are making a presentation, your audience becomes well informed. And, by being knowledgeable about the topic, you will be able to present with much confidence.

3. Don’t Memorize 

If you think that your memory can return every single word you memorise you’re doomed.  You will forget the words and then not know where to go or how to get out of it.  But if you know the subject well, you won’t be trying to go back into your memory and pull out the exact words you memorised.  You’ll know the subject and be able to deliver it to the audience with confidence.

So, avoid memorising. Because if you do, there might be someone the audience who knows about the topic and point out the important things you have not covered. This can trigger your anxiety and become confused. 

4. Focus on Content

The key aspect of your presentation is its content. Focussing on the right content, which will not confuse your audience. Think about the steps, points and supporting information you need that will not confuse or overwhelm the audience.  Look at all aspects of the audience and determine their level of knowledge on the subject. And then ask yourself; Will my presentation content share knowledge to the audience they did not know before?

The more comfortable you are about your content, the more confident you will become facing the audience. So focus on the topic and content. When you concentrate on the subject matter the fear of presenting will dissipate.

5. Prepare and Practice 

There’s no substitute for good preparation and practice before presenting to your audience. But balance how you prepare for your presentation.  Don’t spend too much time planning and writing what you’re going present.  Prepare the right excerpts and include some trigger words.  And make sure you get to know the subject very well.  

Only forty percent of your time should be enough to plan and write a presentation.  And the other sixty percent should be used to practice how you’re doing to present.  Practice in repetitious delivery of your presentation out loud from its start to finish.  

6. Make Eye Contact 

Making eye contact with your audience is one way of building confidence. So, as soon as you start presenting, look at your audience. Hold your nerves when you see some people in the audience stare at you. Don’t worry about what they are thinking. Instead of focusing on them, look out for others who are smiling and nodding their heads. Once you find one or two, look at them in the eyes for two minutes. You will gain confidence knowing that there are some friendly faces in the audience to bond with.

7. Use the Right Language

Make sure you use the appropriate words that suit the audience. It’s important the phrases you use are simple to understand. Don’t use jargons which might make the audience confused or getting bored. And try hard not to stutter especially when you forget to say what you want to say. Stuttering conveys a lack of confidence and knowledge of your subject. If you need to recall what you want to say, pause for a few seconds and then continue.

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8. Don’t Worry About the Audience 

Many of us become nervous when we stand up to present in front of the audience.  Because we are thinking of it as if we are presenting to this group of people.  That should not be the case. We are actually presenting to one person — times — the number of individuals in the room.  Every single one of those people is just a person.  If you can confidently talk to them in one on one (an audience of one). Then you can do the same in a group.

But don’t consider your audience as a threat who has come to judge you. Remember that they are only there to listen, not to challenge you.

9. Calm Yourself? 

Lastly, to calm nerves before a presentation, create a signpost in your mind that links all sections of the content.  How you flow from one part to the next without any interruption is key to knowing where your presentation is heading.  This will enable you to lead your audience on a journey to discover what your presentation is all about.  Thus, you’ll achieve what you want your audience to take away from your presentation. 

So, visualise the direction and deliver the presentation without looking at your notes.  It is most likely you will go blank and more nervous if you fail to create a signpost in your mind.  

Do you know how to not get nervous before a presentation? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

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