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Uh oh, you’re about to give an important presentation and you’re feeling nervous. The good news is that you’re not alone. The #1 fear in this country is public speaking. The #3 fear is death. So that means, at a funeral, you’d rather be in the box than giving the eulogy. Yes, I joke, but that leads to my first tip.
Tip #1: Don’t take yourself and your role too seriously
Let’s accept that we are only human, we will make mistakes, and that’s okay. I have found that humor helps put things in perspective.
I have a confession. Even experienced instructors get nervous. Just before I spoke at the Training 2019 Conference & Expo in Orlando, I remember feeling nervous. It was my second break out session at a national conference. I was jittery and short of breath. It was as though I had lost control of my body. I knew there was one thing I could control and that brings me to my next tip.
Tip #2: Use deep breathing
Deep breathing is a powerful anxiety reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response to a relaxed response. Remember, when you feel like you’ve lost control, the one thing you CAN control is your breathing.
Slowly inhale to a count of three, hold your breath to a count of three, and then slowly exhale for a count of three. Repeat this several times and you’ll be amazed with the results.
Tip #3: Prepare and rehearse thoroughly
Have you heard the expression, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail?” Another great tip is to do your homework. I like to rehearse the first five minutes until my opening is smooth and I feel relaxed. I don’t memorize my opening. I prefer to have key points that I’m sure to get across.
Tip #4: Use positive self-talk
Let’s get rid of any negative chatter and replace it with positive thoughts. I have a mantra that I’ve used for more than 20 years. Remember, even experienced instructors feel nervous. I say this, to myself, just before I’m about to start the session. It gives me that added boost and pick me up. Try it yourself and see how it changes your mood completely.
“I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here. I care about you. And I know what I know.”
Tip #5 Change your feelings by changing your body language
This tip is courtesy of Amy Cuddy, Harvard Professor, TED Talk Speaker, and Author of “Presence, Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges.” She believes that body language affects how others see us, but can it also change how we see ourselves? Thankfully, the answer is YES!
Amy suggests a power pose as one of her top techniques. Stand with your arms on your waist, or outstretched above your head, for just a couple of minutes before your presentation. You’ll feel more confident, powerful, and positive.
These are just five tips to deal with nervousness and anxiety as a presenter. They work for trainers too! In our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop, we share even more tips to keep you calm, cool, and collected! Check out our Professional Presentation Skills workshop as well. You’ll learn to overcome your fear of public speaking by gaining the confidence to deliver polished presentations anywhere, anytime.
What do you do to build your confidence before an important presentation?