How to become more relaxed before a presentation
A lot of us feel this. You are about to present something to our colleagues, or have been invited to give a presentation at an event. You're nervous. You feel insecure. Your heart beats faster, the stomach behaves strange. You're sweating, breathless and your legs feel unstable. Your mouth becomes dry, your voice shakes, your face turns red and your muscles are tense. Maybe you might even get a headache or get dizzy. Or maybe you faint.
Luckily there are several things we can do to prevent it for getting this way! With relatively simple methods we can bolster our self-consciousness and learn to relax a bit more under pressure.
AJ Harbinger from Art of Charm, who teaches people self-confidence, claims that an increased level of self-confidence is mainly a question of acquired tools and convictions. And the more you practice those, the more they will rub off on your self-esteem.
So how do we become more self-assure?
Research indicates that a good night’s sleep plays an important part both to our level of energy and our self-image. Exercise, meditation, reading and even physical appearance or wellbeing are also things that stimulate our self-confidence and self-esteem. It can also be useful to organize our days with an agenda so that we can achieve satisfaction from fulfilling small goals every day.
But, when we have to give a talk or present in front of others, then it is not necessarily enough to be generally self-confident considering fear of public presentations spearheads the list of things that we humans are most afraid of. Likewise, are the fear of making mistakes, receiving negative feedback, being judged, getting embarrassed or getting rejected widespread.
Darlene Price, who's a communications coach, author and CEO of the company Well Said Inc. which trains people in the art of presentation, and says "There are no negative consequences from feeling nervous; the trick is to avoid showing it". You don't have to get rid of the nerves. You just have to not show them. (Source).
You don't have to have an extreme level of self-esteem in order to act confidently in front of others. There's nothing dangerous about feeling nervous, what you have to do is try to conceal the nerves. That is why it is big advantage to learn how we approach a presentation calmly, even though we are in fact nervous.
Prepare: Research the topic and know the content.
Know the surroundings: Find out what kind of room and what kind of surroundings you are going to give your presentation in. For instance, you don't want to arrive and find out that you can't connect your computer, or that there is a wall between you and half the audience.
Practice: This is the best way to calm your nerves. It's even better if you practice in front of an audience. You could even record yourself and listen to your presentation several times.
Visualize your success: Go through your presentation mentally, visualize yourself perform with confidence and energy and imagine that the audience receives your messages well.
Know your audience: Find out what people expect from your presentation. If possible, it is a good idea to arrive early in order to talk to a few of the participants about their expectations. This way, you'll gather some knowledge and also gain a couple of familiar faces you can look at during the presentation.
Talk positively to yourself: Replace negative thoughts with confirmation. Tell yourself that you are well-prepared and ready and that you have your presentation under control.
Exercise lightly and breathe deeply before the presentation: Make sure that you stretch or do simple physical exercises before the presentation. Taking a walk is also a good idea. Breathe in deep through your nose while counting to three, and exhale through your mouth while also counting to three. This feeds your brain oxygen.
Remember these three things about your audience:
1) They think you are an expert, so do not let them change their minds.
2) They want you to do well, so they are already on your side.
3) They do not know when you make a mistake, so don't tell them.
Learn your introduction by heart: The beginning of a presentation carries a rush of adrenalin with it. So, it is a good idea to memorize the first couple of sentences so that you are able to deliver them automatically and fully profit from the rush. This allows you to seem self-confident from the beginning.
Smile: Genuine smiles releases a chemical reaction in the brain that calms your nerves and promotes your sense of wellbeing. It also gives the impression that you are happy to see them and that you are enthusiastic about your message.
Remember that you don't look as nervous as you feel: Remember, that your audience can't see the things that are happening inside you. They can only see what you choose to show them. This means you can create an image of credibility, empathy and impact.