Friday, September 16, 2011

How to Kill Nervousness Before and During Presentations


Do you often get butterflies in your stomach when thinking about presentation and public speaking over a crowd of people? Do your palms get all sweaty? Does your mind go blank when you think about your opening introduction?

You know what, according to the speaker of a seminar I've attended in IBM on "Effective Presentation Skills," public speaking is the top second fear of people, while the first being death. This means that generally people would rather die than speak in front of the many.

So are you one of these people who are doomed to presentation panic or paralysis? Some people will tell you to picture everyone in the audience in their underwear. Then you will not be as stressed since the people in the audience should be more embarrassed than you. However, I personally don't use that technique because I think it is overrated and it does not work for me.

Here are some suggestion for you to overcome that debilitating nervousness and deliver a speech that can wow the audience or at least may leave them feeling satisfied:

1. If you have been notified in advanced and asked to prepare a presentation, prepare for it well. Revise the subject and develop conceptual clarity on every single point that should be covered. If there are any doubts, find answers and use resources available in the library, online or your trusted reference people. If you are think that you have understood the subject by heart and feel it so deep within, then half the battle is won.

2. Rehearse the presentation in your room once or twice. If you can have a friend or family member to help you by sitting through the rehearsal, it will be even more fantastic. But even otherwise, a rehearsal without an audience can also be good enough to convince you that things are under control. You can face a mirror to see how you project yourself--not only the voice but also hand gestures and other natural body movements.

3. Avoid sleeping late at night if you have your presentation the next morning. A good night's sleep will ensure that you are fresh and alert to handle the challenges of the presentation.

4. When you go for the presentation, relax. Breathe in and out. Say your prayers. Tell yourself that you have done the best preparation possible and you will now try and do an excellent presentation. Forget about the outcome. Forget what people will say at the end or think during the talk. Focus on the job at hand with a calm frame of mind. There may be a drying of the mouth in the beginning but it will pass away soon and you will end up doing a very good presentation.

5. Focus and look at one person during the presentation. Establish eye contact. Smile whenever possible and/or necessary.

You can think that most people are also nervous as you as they give out presentations. It always helps me to think that everyone gets anxious, and we are all only human. Even if you make a small mistake, chances are, no one will even notice. Just let it go and keep going. If you make a big mistake, laugh it off like it is no big deal. It could even be the highlight of the presentation, or even a joke that could break the ice. Just relax and you'll do fine!