8 ways of successfully coping with presentation nerves

It’s the day before your big work/school presentation and you keep being reminded of that common urban myth that, statistically, people are more afraid of public speaking than death. While this can be dismissed as hyperbolic lore, it is true that a presentation nerves are commonly experienced by the vast majority of people.

Symptoms include increased heart rare, sweaty palms, a stomach that feels like a washing machine, a dry mouth, quivering voice, muscle tension and even fainting. If you’re this far into your career, nothing this dramatic should happen but it is natural to feel anxious.

The Standard have built a great guide to overcoming presentation nerves. Here’s just a slice of it!

1. Know Your Venue

Public speaking coach, Ian Cunliffe, says “don’t wait until you arrive onstage to realise that there’s a post blocking your view of half the audience, or that they will be serving dinner while you speak”. Know the size and scale of the room so there are no curve-balls that circumvent your preparation.

2. Visualise Success

Keeping a mental image of getting through the presentation nerves and delivering on the best moment of your career so far is proven to have positive effects. Sports psychologists have proven that an athlete’s ability to vividly visualise success creates a higher win rate.

3. Know Your Audience

If you arrive early and talk to a few individual audience members about the presentation, you’ll have a few supporters in the crowd you can point your focus to.

4. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Fake it ’till you make it! Keep telling yourself affirming statements and soon enough you’ll actually believe them. As Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”

5. Repeat the ‘Three Audience Truths’

One: They believe you are in control of the situation and room.

Two: They want to you deliver a great presentation.

Three: They don’t know when you make small mistakes.

6. Memorise Your Opening

Your opening statement will be the most memorable part of the presentation and the most likely place for you to make a mistake. Learn your first couple of sentences by heart so you can acclimatise to the room while reciting your presentation without thinking.

7. Smile

As well as shooting confidence chemicals into your brain, smiling will make your audience feel at ease and thus create this cycle of support between speaker and listener.

8. Realise That You Don’t Look As Nervous As You Feel

If you don’t believe us, try videoing yourself at home. You’ll realise that you just look like a normal person talking to a group of people in a room.