21 mindful tools for managing presentation nerves
“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” — Mark Twain
The Issue | The Tool | What to do
- Negative self — talk with increased heart rate, sweaty palms, wobbly legs, ‘butterflies in stomach’
Remind yourself that it is perfectly normal to feel the way you do. It’s because you care. Change your label to excitement instead of fear.
2. Feeling really anxious
Breathe Take long, slow deep breaths through your nose filling your abdomen. Inhale to a count of 5 then exhale to a count of 5 focusing on your breath for 1 minute.
3. The first 2 minutes are the hardest
Remember your opening
Memorise your opening and practice delivering it slowly.
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Having trouble remembering your content
Attention — Open strong
Relevant — What’s in it for them
Message — What is it ?
Examples — Give them some
Do — Tell them what to do
5. Too much nervous energy
Gradually work your way up your body from your toes, up to your head squeezing and then relaxing each part of your body.
6. Nervous due to inexperience
Watch TED.com, read books, attend conferences & seminars. Watch speakers on YouTube.
“Words have incredible power. they can make people’s hearts soar, or they can make people’s hearts sore.” — Dr. Mardy Grothe
7. Worried about how you look and sound
Video / Audio
Record yourself delivering your presentation and watch or listen to it. Focus on your vocal variety and non verbal gestures. Identify what works well for you and what you could improve.
8. Need more practiceFind a classAttend a public speaking class, Toastmasters or improvisation classes.
9. Your imagination working against you
Several days before you present find somewhere to relax and visualise everything going well. Your audience are smiling and happy, you look and sound great.
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” — Mark Twain
10. Calm on the outside but a wreck on the inside
Press and massage your forehead. If you can, try to book a full body massage the day before.
11. Nervous just before you speak
Take a moment
Just before you speak, smile, pause and make eye contact.
12. Feeling fidgety
Don’t be afraid to expend that nervous energy by moving around a little before you speak.
13. Dry mouth
Suck a sweet
A few minutes before you speak, suck a boiled sweet or eat an apple. Have a glass of water close by and take occasional sips.
14. Can’t focus
Smiling sends relaxing and positive chemicals through your body and helps to clear the mind.
“90% Of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” — Somers white
15. Can’t settle beforehand
Get to the venue really early and spend as long as you can just ‘being in the room’. Adjust to the environment and just relax in it.
16. Feel too tense
Boost your bodies feel good chemicals by exercising the day before you present and also earlier in the day prior to presenting.
17. Not feeling very confident
Before you stand to speak strike your best ‘Super Man’ or ‘Wonder Woman’ stance and hold your head high.
18. Lacking self belief
1) They believe you’re the expert, so don’t tell them otherwise.
2) They want you to succeed.
3) They won’t know when you make a mistake.
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. the one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –
19. Not sure what to expect
Do your research beforehand and get to know your audience. Who are they, how much do they know, what do they need from you?
20. Worried about slip-ups
Don’t memorise your speech but do practice as much as you can. Do so in front of family, friends and colleagues and ask for feedback.
21. Confidence still an issue
Be an 8
Imagine what confidence looks and feels like on a scale of 1 to 10. Carry an 8 of clubs with you from a packet of playing cards and practice being an 8 in confidence.
Hold that image in your mind.
If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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