Giving a presentation in a meeting or in front of a large crowd is a big ask for many people, so being nervous is perfectly natural. In order to help you get a handle on all those butterflies taking up residency in your stomach, this article will discuss a few ways to relax and prepare for an important presentation.
Stress, tension, and general nerves are common responses to putting yourself in front of a group of people and asking to be an expert on the subject at hand. While you may actually be an expert, it doesn’t make a presentation any easier, especially if you’re introverted by nature. It can be downright terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be.
Write out an outline covering the points you want to discuss. This gives you a clear format to follow so that you don’t forget any important aspects. Don’t memorize a speech, though. Trying to memorize can end up putting more pressure on you and doesn’t leave much room for inspiration.
You might also consider using a freelance presentation designer to meticulously create the charts, graphs, slides, and written handouts to give your presentation a more polished and professional feel. You’ll look extremely put together, and it will relieve the pressure of having to design your slide deck yourself.
Your outline is your best friend. It should have all the talking points that you wish to discuss, notes to remind you of a story you’d like to share, or some facts and figures that illustrate your point.
Notes are a great alternative to reciting a memorized lecture because you will come off more relaxed and you won’t have to dedicate hours to perfecting timing, flow, and tone to avoid sounding artificial.
Take your outline and start practicing your presentation. It’s a great idea to record yourself so that you answer the question everyone asks themselves, “Is that what I sound like?” Recording yourself can clarify which areas you need to work on or points that you may have missed. If you don’t like the way you come across, this is a great opportunity to fix it.
Something important to realize is that your audience probably won’t notice if you make a small mistake or lose your place for a moment. If they do, it’s a minor detail in the overall presentation and they’ll quickly forget it. Contrary to what you might be thinking, people are not going to scrutinize every word you say! Just understanding this will help get you through quick blips, consult your outline, and move on.
The power of deep breathing has proven itself time and time again. It’s used to induce trance-like states, decrease pain, and relieve stress. Before going on stage or into the conference room, give yourself a few minutes of “me” time and practice some deep breathing techniques to lessen your stress and improve your focus.
Turn things around and channel that nervous energy into enthusiasm. It’s a well-established fact that most communication is nonverbal, so use your body to not only burn off nervous energy but convert it into visible passion for your subject. Tell yourself that it’s not nervousness, but that sharing your knowledge with others makes you excited.
Get to know the area in which you will be presenting. If possible, practice your presentation in it before the actual event. The more comfortable you are with the area you are in, the more natural and comfortable you will come across to your audience.
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