How to deal with nervousness before a presentation?

This post is also available in: Spanish

“There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.”
– Mark Twain

Your hearth starts beating faster, your stomach feels queasy and your palms are sweaty just before starting your presentation: you´re nervous. Are you going to succeed or will your mind go blank?

Including the best speakers and actors have those feelings and thoughts. It´s normal and it helps you to be focussed on your task and to be concentrated. I´m not talking about public speaking fear in the worst form, which can be a quite challenging psychological barrier, but about those trembling knees and sweaty palms everyone experiences.

Apart from good preparation and practise, there are some things you can do just before a presentation to feel more relaxed and confident.

  • Drink something. For our brain it´s a sign that the situation is not life threatening, as there is still time to drink something. The adrenaline level will decrease.
  • Do breathing exercises. For the same reason: to lower the level of your stress hormones. Some deep breaths can help you to relax.
  • Tell yourself the group is made up of individuals. Talk to one individual at the time. Go from one to another.
  • Think about the people you care most about. It will generate a positive feeling and relaxation.
  • Try the power pose for two minutes: this will decrease your cortisol levels (stress hormone) and boost your testosterone (giving you confidence). Watch the TED video: how your body language shapes who you are. One of the most popular videos of the last weeks.

And most importantly: don´t apologize for being nervous. If you mention it you are calling the attention to it, whether most of the times your nervousness does not show at all. Remain silent and your listeners may not notice at all.

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