It’s not just you. Presentation anxiety is a common feeling that comes from fear of public speaking, one of Americans’ most common fears. It’s important to understand how to reduce and control these feelings before a presentation so your hard work doesn’t fall flat.
Whether for work or school, you want to deliver a great presentation. The eleven effective tips below are designed to put you in control and help you deliver with confidence before your next presentation.
Map It Out In Advance
Mapping out each step of your presentation is a great way to kill uncertainty. Breaking down big jobs into small tasks is so helpful that Penn State crafted an online tutorial to walk you through the planning process from start to finish. The tutorial recommends focusing on your body content before crafting your introduction and closing statements.
Nail Your Introduction
After you know what you are going to talk about, public speaking coach Ellen Finkelstein recommends hitting three main points in your introduction to grab your audience’s attention:
- Who are you?
- What are you talking about?
- Why is the topic important?
Finkelstein suggests writing out each answer, then editing them and, finally, practicing delivering them. Doing so gives you the confidence to start your presentation because no decisions are left to the moment of delivery.
Practice Your Delivery
Bill Rosenthal, chief executive of communication training provider Communispond, says locking down your presentation will make you a more confident presenter than an inauthentic one. Ever heard of a dancer looking robotic because they practiced their steps too much?
A sure fire way to crush some fear is to show yourself how capable you are by practicing your presentation a handful of times before the day comes. If you can, get in front of some friends you trust to get their feedback or record yourself on your phone to look for things to improve.
Establish Your Mindset
Understand that it’s a lot easier to focus on negative things and overlook positive ones. For example, it’s easier to think you will give a bad presentation and not about the value the audience is will get only causes further anxiety.
Communication coach Cher Gunderson explains that supporting yourself with positive reinforcement is one of the best mindset shifts you can take on. She writes, “shift hyper-critical, non-supportive, judgmental thoughts to supportive, balanced thoughts.”
Review The Situation
Wouldn’t it be nice if you had your own personal therapist during moments of distress? Well, now you do. Youper is an anxiety assistant you can use to analyze your thoughts to anchor them in reality and facts, not false expectations. In just a few minutes, you complete a mini therapy session and gain a healthy perspective on your trigger situation. Users report that the tool is just like interacting with a therapist.
Show Up A Little Early
It’s important to get comfortable with the location and the audience where you’ll present. Walk around, pay attention to the layout of the room, and look for things that could potentially distract you. This will help you feel more comfortable because you’ll snuff out the initial tension of being in a new place.
Meeting a few people in the room establishes allies in the audience for you so you don’t feel like you are presenting to strangers.
Keep Water On Hand
Ever notice that presenters usually have a cup or bottle of water on hand when giving a presentation? Keeping yourself hydrated during a presentation is important because dehydration can trigger anxiety symptoms. That’s the last thing you want before you deliver a presentation.
When you get anxious your breathing gets faster. Breathing calms anxiety by guiding you back to a slower rhythm, calming you down in the process. Research indicates that breathing exercises are an effective way to lower anxiety levels.
For those that find it difficult to focus on their breathing, a guided exercise with audio or a visual to follow will help you focus on your breath through an entire cycle.
Visualize A Successful Presentation
Imagine yourself finishing the presentation and hearing the sound of applause. Visualize members of the audience thanking you, or colleagues congratulating you. These positive images help manifest a positive attitude, which will come out during your presentation.
Visualization isn’t just for improving your attitude. Studies have shown that visualizing an activity can have the same effect as real-life practice. Moreover, if you visualize and practice in real life, you are even more likely to do well.
Remind Yourself Fear Is Normal
Fear is normal and helps us avoid danger. That’s great! However, is it dangerous to give a speech?
As mentioned above, fear of public speaking is high on the list of most common fears. Being judged is not something humans are comfortable with, and giving a presentation puts you in a position where you can be judged.
Remember that everyone feels anxious before they present, and you feel this way because the presentation is important to you.
How To Calm Down Before A Presentation
Use as many or as few of these tips as you’d like, but I don’t suggest trying to do all of them. That might be harder than giving the presentation!
The important thing is to do what you feel you can without adding to the pressure of the presentation. If you have questions about what you feel before a presentation or other social situation, learn more about social anxiety symptoms.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.