When it comes to presenting, the main culprit in our potentially unsuccessful delivery isn’t our lack of knowledge or curated PowerPoint—it’s our nerves. We often talk faster, stumble, add filler words, and/or blank on what we want to say. All because we’re nervous. Talk about frustrating. Here are a few tips to help you control your nerves so that they don’t control you.
Practice, Practice, Practice
They say practice makes perfect, but the truth is that practicing helps eliminate imperfections. Practice your presentation as many times as needed to help eliminate any flaws and inconsistencies in your delivery. Aim to mimic the environment and audience as much as possible. Practice in front of friends and family if there will be a live audience. If it’s a digital presentation, run through your presentation a few times with a friend over Zoom. Eliminate any distractions in your home as if it were the real deal. A run-through while you’re getting distracted by your kids, pets or television won’t serve you very well.
Lights, Camera, Action
A great way to practice and improve your presentation is by filming or recording yourself. The way we think we look or sound when presenting isn’t always reality—this could be for the better or worse. Set up your phone to capture your presentation at the same angle an audience member would be sitting and take some time to review and refine what you see. Often we fill our speech with filler words, long pauses, and sloppy body language. While it may feel uncomfortable to watch yourself, you can’t correct what you don’t have awareness around. It is better to give yourself tough feedback that you can correct before the big day versus hearing it from a boss, colleague, or even potential employer.
Dress The Part
A small but often important detail is attire. Our outfit can often make or break us. It may sound silly, but often, when we wear an outfit we love, we feel good. When we wear an outfit that we are uncomfortable or feel sloppy in, we don’t feel too great. The outfit you wear doesn’t necessarily have to fit into certain appearance criteria. Instead, it should be an outfit you know you feel confident in—while also being appropriate for the setting. Don’t dress in an outfit that might fit the part but that you feel uncomfortable in. It should be a balance of the two. Similarly, if you’re presenting remotely, make it a point to get fully dressed that day. It’s easy to stay in pajamas or athleisure clothes when you’re behind a screen, but that might not be giving you the confidence you need to rock your presentation.
“Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.” –Dale Carnegie