We’ve all have the jitters right before we speak, and if they are uncontrolled, they can really make a mess of things inside our heads. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to ease any last-minute nerves that might pop-up and demand your attention. Here are some that work best for me.
Arrive early and speak to people
I try to arrive early so I have a chance to speak with some of the people in the audience. When we’re caught up in our fears, we tend to forget that our audience has fears too. Talking to people reminds me that they are human as well, and if they were in my position, they probably would be more terrified! Scott Berkun, in his book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, says he uses this tactic to secure some friendly faces in the audience.
If all else fails, I know that I know my material really well. This really helps me calm my nerves. Since content is the heart of the presentation, I find peace knowing that the heart is taken care of. When I create a new presentation, I try to practice it at least 5-10 times (this means that if I’m giving a 30-minute presentation, I need five hours just to practice the delivery). Each time I practice the presentation, I visualize the audience in my room with me, so I have a chance to feel the nervousness and fear. When the day of the presentation comes, the fear isn’t a surprise or a new feeling.
Meditate or do a short breathing exercise
Take 5 or 10 minutes to close your eyes, and do a short meditation or breathing exercise before your talk. This will help you calm your mind, and get you back in touch with your body. Once you’ve regained some sense of yourself, you’ll find that you’re ready to confidently and calmly rock the presentation. Make sure you give yourself 5 or 10 minutes between the end of the meditation and the beginning or your talk. Otherwise, your audience may get the sense that you just woke up, and even though they may be right in an enlightenment sort-of-way, they may take it as permission to sleep as well.