How to Beat Nerves before a Presentation By Sharon Alexander
If you've been selected to give a presentation at the next department meeting or if you have to present new information to a client, you may become very nervous in the days leading up to giving the presentation.
While a certain amount of nervousness is expected, if you start to lose sleep, lose your appetite or you're under a tremendous amount of stress, consider the following tips to help you overcome nervousness and give a terrific presentation.
Create a Professional Presentation
Most presentations focus on one or two topics and can last anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. Before you begin preparing, ask the people in charge of the meeting how long your presentation should be. Take into consideration slides, handouts or other visual aids you want to use so you can create a presentation that is the perfect length. When drafting your presentation, make sure you understand your topic so you can interact with your audience easily. During a casual presentation you will be able to use visual aids, ask and answer questions and repeat important pieces of information in order to reinforce your points. Practice your presentation using visual aid devices that will be made available to you at the meeting. This will make you more comfortable changing from slide to slide, starting or stopping a power point slide or referring to documents you've given to the audience. If you choose to hand out information before, during or after the presentation, make sure you bring enough copies for everyone. Find out how many people will be attending and make at least five extra copies in case additional people decide to attend.
Choose the Right Outfit
Wearing your favorite suit on the day of your presentation can help reduce any stress you have. When you know you look good, your body language will become relaxed. You may even feel more comfortable answering questions during the presentation. If you don't have anything suitable to wear, consider buying a new outfit to make the occasion even more special. Choose a neutral colored business suit (pant or skirt suit), polish your shoes and wear a white shirt underneath so you don't stand out from other people in the room. Brightly colored suits are usually not appropriate for presentations and may distract others from listening closely to what you have to say.
Talk to the Audience
Meeting with those who you will be presenting to is a great way to reduce stress. Knowing more about your audience will make them seem less intimidating. Arrive early to set-up and join the group for coffee or tea before the meeting begins. Even if you will be presenting to co-workers, make sure you mingle with other people in order to calm your nerves.
Giving a presentation can be stressful, but if you've prepared your materials in advance, you should be able to overcome any feelings of nervousness once you start talking. Make sure you listen to yourself as you give the presentation. If you feel you're talking too quickly, take a deep breath in order to slow down. This will keep you focused on what you're saying and keep the audience engaged too.