We have all had a few “butterflies” in the stomach before a presentation. I think that it is natural. These feeling before a presentation have been described as creative apprehension, but it can still cause anxiety. There are many techniques to calm yourself and we will explore a few of them in this article.
Here are a few basic techniques, from which, you can select the ones that work for you:
- Think positive to drive down the tendency to think negatively
Consider the audience.
- In most cases they actually want it to go well so that they can benefit from your information.
- Audiences tend to respond to a good presenter, especially one that focuses on and respects them.
List your fears and take practical steps to deal with the causes one by one. For example:
- Timing: Rehearse, time it and make sure your notes include a guide on timing.
- Losing your place: The style of your notes should make this difficult to lose your page
- Dry mouth: Always have a glass of water to hand, no one minds if you take sip.
- What to do with your hands: Hold something appropriate such as a pen.
- Visual aids: Can they be seen? Check ahead of the presentation, then you don’t have to ask, “can you see at the back” because people expect you to know that.
- Volume: Speak naturally aiming at someone in the back row and everyone will be able to hear you.
Preparation is Key
Successful presenters must be well prepared. As Mark Twain said “It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”. Practice how you will deliver certain points. It may help to write down directions to yourself such as PAUSE; SPEAK LOUDER; LEAN FORWARD, etc.
Determine the appropriate length, structure, logical arguments and language that will help to creates rapport with your audience. Your notes should guide you on both content and emphasis. Prepare for giving the talk as well as the talk itself. For example, your notes must be clearly legible from the position from which you will give the presentation. This preparation is the perfect antidote to anxiety.
Know the Environment
Become as familiar with the presentation environment as possible. For example, make sure that you know how to work any equipment, where to stand to allow the group (and you) to see your slides and for you to see your notes, have sufficient space to put your papers, tape the projector lead to the floor so that you do not trip, count the steps to the podium. Whatever the environment, reduce your anxiety by having detailed knowledge of it.
Tackle everything that create fears systematically and the causes can be mitigated. Doing so will increase your confidence and since confidence helps you present well, you will impress your audience. Once you have felt the actual surge of confidence, you are ready to go. Overall, regard it as an opportunity because a thorough and successful presentation can help you to achieve your goals.
In summary you must focus on what to say and how to say it along with your plan of using the techniques you have planned and practiced. Inspect the speaking environment so you can avoid mechanical “glitches” that may become an obstacle. After your presentation, do an analysis so you can make changes to ensure that you learn from your experience.
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