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Start-Ups

5 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before an Important Presentation

By Jessica Valdez   |    May 28, 2020   |    12:47 PM

Overcome Public Speaking Fears with These Tips and Tricks

Fear of public speaking is a common anxiety that many professionals experience when faced with a big presentation, even if they appear calm and collected. 

Whether you need to deliver a conference keynote or nail a pitch presentation, these tips can teach you how to manage your nerves.

1. Prepare and rehearse (and then rehearse some more)

One of the best ways to beat performance anxiety is to become deeply comfortable with the task you need to complete. 

For presentations and speeches, that process starts with conducting research on your subject so that you can become familiar with the material. Then, decide what you want to say to your audience and exactly how you want to say it. 

2. Ask for feedback

In the beginning, you might feel most comfortable practicing your presentation alone in front of a mirror. Eventually, consider asking someone you trust for constructive feedback.

3. Take a deep breath after receiving constructive criticism

Tactfully accepting feedback isn’t easy — it’s never fun hearing how you could improve, especially when you’re already nervous. However, learning how to accept constructive feedback with grace will help you create an effective and engaging presentation. 

Once you work through the initial urge to defend your presentation techniques, you’ll start to see how valuable feedback can be.

4. Take a deep breath

For this tip to work, you need to stop everything else you’re doing and focus on your breath. This is called mindful breathing, and here’s a quick article that explains how to use it to cope with stressful situations

5. Identify other physical relaxation techniques

Physical relaxation can lead to mental clarity, so try a variety of techniques to find the perfect mix to calm your nerves. Here are some options:

  • Go for a quick walk around the block before your presentation.
  • If you need to burn off more energy, schedule time in your calendar for a pre-presentation workout.
  • Combine stretching and deep breathing exercises for full-body relaxation.
  • Turn on your favorite song and dance your anxiety away.
  • Try self-massage on your neck and shoulders to relieve tension.

No matter what activities you choose, always focus on deep breathing.

6. Stay hydrated

Nerves and adrenaline can lead to a dry mouth, so drink plenty of water before your presentation. It’s also a good idea to keep a glass of water nearby during the event. When you’re thirsty, don’t hesitate to take a sip, and remember that you can use occasional sips as an opportunity to pause or emphasize a point.

7. Move around the room during your presentation

If standing still makes you feel even more anxious, it’s perfectly acceptable to move around the room as you deliver your presentation. 

Don’t pace back and forth restlessly, though. As you practice, you’re bound to find the right balance between moving about and standing still.

8. Accept that nerves are inevitable

It’s completely normal to feel nervous before a big presentation or talk, but that doesn’t mean fear needs to dominate your behavior. 

The best way to win your next presentation is simply to be knowledgeable and prepared. Try some physical relaxation techniques to channel that energy, and get ready to knock your next public speaking engagement out of the park.