How To Overcome Nervousness Before a Presentation

If you have ever needed to make a presentation, you will have at some point experienced the fear of making a mess of things, looking foolish, frightened of forgetting what you wanted to say, having a sense of inferiority, or something along those lines.

Why is this? Well, we all feel that we want to make a good impression, to make a difference, to make an impact, and often we put so much pressure on ourselves to perform that we suffer from a greater flow of adrenalin, hence causing ourselves to feel the effects of nervousness.

Some form of nervousness is actually good; it causes you to concentrate on what you are going to say and makes you focus on what would make that good impression. It’s when your nerves get the better of you that causes the problem of excessive fear of under-performance.

Here are six things you can do to control your nerves and perform well when you have to make a presentation:

1)      Practice: The brain can’t tell the difference between an actual occurrence and something that is imagined. If you can practice your presentation many times, when the time comes to do it for real,

you will feel that you have done this many times, and will gain the confidence it can be done for real.

2)      Know your subject well: The more information, facts, illustrations, ideas, concepts and solutions you can get to back up what you are going to say, the safer you will feel with the material. You don’t have to use it all; you just have to know it’s there.

3)      Know your audience well: Who are you speaking to? What do they need to know? How will they take in information? You more you know about them, the easier it will be to make the information come alive.

4)      Know your objective: By being aware of what your message is intended to achieve, the greater the chance of achieving it. Begin with the end in mind, and you’ll create the journey to get there.

5)      Prepare and rehearse: Go through the presentation as often as you need to make it spontaneous. You don’t want to learn it word for word, but you do want to ensure you know the gist of the

presentation before you give it.

6)      Focus on them, not you: Look at the fears I mentioned in the first paragraph. These only occur when you are concentrating on yourself and the impression you are making. Focusing on your audience takes away those pressures, as you are emphasising the message, not your image. Focus on what you want them to go away with, and your nerves will dissipate.

With adequate preparation, an emphasis on the message you want to put across and a clear understanding of your audience, you give yourself the opportunity to control your nerves and make an excellent job of presenting the information.

Thanks again



Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 16 August, 2011

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