Do you experience a racing pulse or rapid breathing just before delivering a presentation or preparing for an industry talk? If so, you may be among the millions who privately struggle with the jitters before speaking in public. Giving a talk can be just as scary as your very first day at work.
Please calm down! The good news is there are ways to deal with this fear effectively and permanently. Here are 6 great tips to help you overcome stage fright and give an ace presentation.
Don’t expect too much
The biggest discomfort for most people is waiting for their moment in the limelight. The key to staying calm is not getting nervous about feeling nervous. You should also find reliable ways to distract yourself (like meditation) in the days and hours before your speech or presentation. Right before you speak, take deep steady breaths to slow down the adrenaline rush.
Get familiar with the venue
Make sure you get acquainted with the setting so you are comfortable before the D-Day – and always ask for light and sound check before you get on the stage. Finding a balance between controlling as much as you can, while recognizing there will be some things you can’t control, is key to not letting your nerves interfere.
Practice makes perfect
We can’t stress on this enough! Preparation is key and knowing your stuff helps, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the problem. You need to practice as much as you can before the performance. Know your content inside out and practice as much as possible to build your confidence. Preparing cues for every pause, or words that need to be stressed comes extremely handy just minutes before and during your final presentation or speech.
Don’t panic when something goes wrong
No matter how much you plan, sooner or later, something may end up going wrong. For instance, your projector or microphone might stop working. If you already know your content, then chances are high that this won’t faze you as much. If, for instance, your microphone stops working, don’t stress over it, carry on with a sharper, louder voice. The technical team will sort the problem, so you don’t need to get worried over an issue you can’t control anyway.
Double check everything
Checking that everything works is critical. You don’t want to walk on stage and suddenly realize that you forgot your notes or laptop – once you are out, it’s too late. Of course, your nerves will take over. If you know your speech or presentation very well, you can even continue without a hitch.
Begin and end with a bang
The most important parts of a speech are the opening and the conclusion. Choose your words carefully to set the tone for your speech, delivering something that grabs the attention of your audience and leaves an impression – jump right in. And in your conclusion, leave your audience with a call to action or some other way for people to get involved.
Rather than expecting those sentences to happen spontaneously in the moment; write and practice them in advance. Have the opening, and closing nailed down and then have a bullet point version of the rest of your speech memorized.