Most of us are very familiar with the abject terror that accompanies public speaking. Sweaty palms, quickened heart rate, shaking hands, shaking voice… oh, the horror, the horror. Well, at least we’re not alone in our terror. Something like 75% of the population suffers from fear of public speaking, officially deemed glossophobia (a pretty awesome word if we do say so). So, take solace in the fact that your irrational fear is normal, stop hyperventilating and read these few tips on how to remain calm before your next presentation.
The easiest thing you can do to calm your hysterical self down before a presentation is just breathe. Take some long, deep, luxurious breaths. Fill your lungs as much as possible (take one more breath in when you think you can’t anymore) and hold it for a few moments before blowing it all out. Do this a few times. You’ll be shocked at how much better you feel almost instantly.
Keep going with these yoga breaths, close your eyes and visualize giving your presentation flawlessly. Push any negative thoughts out of your mind. Replace them with positive, optimistic reflections. Keep breathing deeply and release only positive thoughts into the world. The energy you put into the world will come back to you, so stay positive despite your nervousness. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to calm your nerves by thinking solely positive thoughts. Fashion your own self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another easy way to remain calm before a presentation is to be completely and utterly prepared. Practice, practice, practice and then practice again and again. Our CEO Scott Schwertly recommends practicing at least eight times before your presentation, but more is always better. It’s intuitive: the more comfortable you are with your material, the less nervous you’ll be on the big day. It sounds simple, but you’ve got to put in the hours beforehand for it to really count in the end. However, don’t memorize your presentation; that will only result in your sounding like a robot. Know your material like the back of your hand, but stay relaxed and maintain a level of spontaneity and naturalness in your speech.
Remember the Big Picture
At the risk of sounding cliché, it may seem like your upcoming presentation is the be-all, end-all, most important thing ever in the history of the world, but it’s probably not. The world is going to keep rotating whether you give the best presentation of your life or the worst presentation of your life. A good rule of thumb to keep anxiety in check is to only really worry about things that will affect your life a year from now. Of course, you want to give the best presentation you’ve ever given (and with enough preparation beforehand, that’s a possible feat) but remember to keep it in perspective. Your audience wants to hear a good presentation, of course, but they also have a lot more on their minds other than your presentation. You should do your best to leave them with a good impression of yourself and your content, but remember that, regardless of whether you blow them away or make them fall asleep, about fifteen minutes after you’re done, they’re already thinking about something else. Don’t lose sleep over this presentation. You’re going to do the best you possibly can, and that’s good enough.
So the next time you find yourself having a panic attack before a big presentation, take a deep breath. Now take another, and then another. When the hyperventilating has ceased, fill your mind with only positive thoughts, and remember: when it’s over, it’s over. Just get through the next thirty minutes, the next hour, and then you can relax completely, and have a new post-presentation lease on life.