Deal with your presentation nerves!

Greatest-SpeakerChannel your nervous energy wisely.

Public speaking is of the most feared things in our world based on studies. Some would carry a snake than to stand in front of hundred listeners and speak but there are circumstances wherein we are required to talk even though we like it or not especially if you work as a teacher, lecturer, politician, or any people working in the media or for the public eye. Even experienced presenters feel nervous beforehand despite of giving hundreds of presentations.

Being nervous is not a problem or even a weakness for everybody feels it even if they are prepared or experienced. You just need to channel your nervous energy wisely, by channeling your nervous energy, what I mean is you should know how to manage your nerves and not letting it overcome you from your presentation.

The most common symptoms or signs that you are nervous is the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, dry throat and the panic attack that makes your mind go blank at the opening or in the middle of a presentation. But don’t worry; there are some tested techniques that will help you manage your nerves so you can continue on delivering your speech effectively.

The following techniques won’t eliminate your nerves rather; use them to assist you in using your nervous energy to your advantage. These techniques will use the energy given by the adrenaline rush induced by your nerves to communicate enthusiastically and with conviction. The main goal is to lower your nervousness so your mind can focus on speaking not in controlling your nerves.

Be prepared and well-rehearsed. Do not stop practicing until your presentation is good enough for speaking, you should always aim for excellence and if there are still some points for improvement, target them. You should not memorize your speech rather; know it, be familiar with it so in case of forgetting a line or so, you can always ad lib and stay on track and knowing the words and the subject being spoken will boost your confidence and help reduce your nerves.

Apply deep breathing. The side effect that adrenaline gives is that it makes your breath shallow. By breathing deeply, your brain will get the oxygen it needs to work properly and the slow pace of deep breathing will trick your body to become calmer. This will also help with voice tremors which occur when your breathing is shallow and irregular.

Drink water. Adrenaline, after giving much energy, can turn your mouth into a desert which leads to getting your tongue tied. Have a glass or a handy bottle of water and take sips occasionally especially when you want to pause for emphasis but do not take large gulps of water.

Smile. Smiling is a natural relaxant and sends positive chemicals to your body and positive energy to your audience. Maintaining eye contact can also help you boost confidence and build rapport with your audience.

Visualize the things you want to see. Imagine that the audience you are speaking to is constantly smiling, interested and reacting positively. Stick it to your mind when you present and before you present.

Self-Massage. The speech center of your brain is on the frontal lobe which is of course; on the front of the brain so massaging your forehead will stimulate and energize the front of the brain and speech center.

Have pauses. Do not be a monotonous machine that talks and talks and talks until the speech is over. Try pausing after some sentences to let the audience absorb what you’ve just said and relax you and think of the next topic. Make eye contact and smile. And by pausing, you can attract the attention of the audience when you start speaking again.

Slow down your pace. Remember that you are talking to hundreds of listeners and not all of them can hear you clearly especially those at the back of a large room. So speaking slowly will give them time to listen to every word you utter. And speaking slow will make your body calmer.

Move around. Move around the room to attract the attention of your audience and also to channel your nervous energy to walking. As you walk from one side to another, establish eye contact to different people to be convincing. But try not to move in a back and forth pace or rocking your heels for it may distract your audience than attracting them.

Ignore your nerves. Remember that your goal in public speaking is to spread the information and for the audience to listen. Try to put your nerves aside and focus on communicating effectively

Relaxation Exercises. If you still feel nervous before a presentation, you can do simple exercises that will release the tension in your muscles caused by the nerves but stop if the exercise is already causing pain or discomfort

  • Stand in an easy position with your feet one pace apart, knees ‘unlocked’ and not rigidly pushed back, spine straight, shoulders not tense and head balanced. Try to keep your face muscles relaxed by not clenching your jaw or clamping your teeth together.
  • Now stretch SLOWLY upwards, aim to touch the ceiling but keep your feet flat on the floor. Then flop forward from the waist bending your knees slightly as you go. You are now hanging forward like a rag doll – your arms and head totally unsupported and relaxed.
  • Straighten up SLOWLY – almost vertebrae by vertebrae, as if you were puppet and a giant puppet master was pulling you up by the strings keeping your head until last, when you are standing in your original easy position.
  • Repeat this exercise three times.

Alternatively you can relax in a chair:

  • Sit comfortably with your lower spine pressed into the back of the chair.
  • Raise your arms above your head and stretch as high as possible.
  • Release your arms to your sides and bend forwards with your legs stretched out and reach as far as possible.
  • Return to your starting position.

Repeat this exercise three times.