Presentation nerves – 7 tips to control them

Does the thought of speaking in front of an audience fill you with utter dread and wrack you with presentation nerves? 

Do you experience physical and emotional symptoms such as anxiety, feelings of panic, sweaty palms and palpitations? Does your mind go completely blank? 

How to overcome your presentation nerves

Your experience may not be so extreme but it’s very natural to feel nervous before you step out on stage and face an audience. If you suffer with presentation nerves our checklist of how to control these very common feelings might be of help.

  1. Know your material

    Nothing is worse for presentation nerves than presenting on a topic you are not prepared for. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert before hand but you must know your topic backwards when it comes to presenting. That includes understanding your audience and their needs. Knowing your topic and audience well will also help to select just the most pertinent points and make your presentation more interesting and memorable. 

  2. Structure your presentation

    You may be tempted to memorise your presentation material off by heart to calm your nerves. However this tends to make your delivery come over in quite a stilted way. Also if you miss a word or get lost it can throw your whole presentation off. A better way to cope with presentation nerves is to plan an overall structure to your presentation and give yourself prompts or trigger phrases as to what’s coming next.

  3. Practice, practice, then practice some more

    Although you should want to avoid memorising your presentation material, you should be very comfortable about your delivery. The more you practice the greater confidence you will have and your delivery will be much more natural and from the heart. Practice how you stand in your presentation, how you use your hands and facial expressions, learn how your presentation is structured, read it out aloud in front of a mirror. You can record your presentation on video or audio and adjust accordingly. The more you practice the better your delivery will be and the more you will feel in control of your nerves.

  4. Engage your audience

    Connect with your audience early in your presentation. Engagement with your audience is key to helping your presentation run smoothly. Start with a good icebreaker, ask your audience questions and get them involved in an activity. This will help turn your presentation from a monologue to a conversation and will really help quell your nerves.

  5. Walk tall and move slowly

    Be mindful to stand tall and move confidently when you walk onto the stage and while your there. Feel like you own the room and actively slow down. If you’re nervous it’s a natural tendency to move and speak more quickly which can lead to you making mistakes and getting more flustered. The simple act of physically standing tall and slowing down your movements will help boost how you feel.

  6. Pause, breathe, smile and make eye contact

    Actively pause between paragraphs and key messages of your presentation. Pausing helps you to breathe, relax and pace the presentation. You could even start to enjoy it! Engage with your audience by making eye contact, and smiling genuinely. This will make you feel better and make your audience feel more relaxed too.

  7. Be authentic

    Be you above anything else. Letting your natural personality and passion shine through will be infectious with your audience, and naturally help with any presentation nerves you may have still.

Overall accept that being a little nervous is a good thing, it helps you stay focused on the day. But understand that there are lots of things you can do to manage your presentation nerves and become a more authentic, confident presenter.

Speak with Confidence to any Size Audience

Would you like some help with speaking with more confidence in any presentation? If so our module ‘Speak with Confidence to Any Size Audience’ could really help.

This module provides a range of expert vocal techniques that will strengthen your vocal power and deliver any spoken message with impact every time you present. Discover specialist skills to speak clearly and engage every corner of the room, making every presentation meaningful and memorable, increasing your powers of persuasion and allowing you to instantly bring a meeting or pitch to life