One of the biggest problems most new presenters have is the issue of nerves. Nerves make you talk too fast, forget what you mean to say, and at the worst, can even make you freeze up.
Believe it or not, even I get nervous sometimes! But thanks to a few easy tricks I tend to recover quickly enough that no one notices. And I’m going to share those tricks with you today!
1. Rehearse at different speeds
Knowing the most important things to say and having it practiced will allow you to go on a kind of automatic pilot.
Although you definitely want to do most of your practices at the speed you will present, I always find it useful to do a couple of super fast run-throughs. This forces you to say only the most important things on the slide. Then you can slow it down, but still only say the most important things. This technique is particularly useful for people who use a lot of “ums” and “likes” in their presenting.
Even if you get nervous, you’ll know what to say!
2. Know your timing and be flexible
Nothing is more nerve racking than being ahead or behind of schedule.
If you have a 20 minute presentation, know where you should be at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 18 minutes. Your last few slides should be super flexible in the sense that you should be able to present them in 30 seconds or 3 minutes depending on what is required.
That way no matter how off you are, you can be confident that you will finish on time!
3. Look at people that are smiling
One thing that always messes me up is when there is someone in the front row making a sour or confused face during my presentation. Did I say something wrong? Do I have something on my face? Probably that person just has a weird face. Find someone that is smiling and nodding and look at them!
4. Slow down!
You will almost always talk fast when you are presenting for real, so the key is to slow down! Listen to yourself and make a judgment call. Are you talking faster than normal? Take a deep breath, pause for effect, and continue at a normal rate!
In the end, the best thing you can do to overcome nervousness is to present in front of crowds as much as you can until it becomes a natural state for you. In the meantime use these tips and tricks to help you fake it before you make it!
And never forget that the audience doesn’t know when you mess up. As long as you don’t call attention to it and recover quickly, no one will know.
Remember, presenting is an art form! So make your next presentation into a masterpiece!
Have a great tip for overcoming nervousness? Or perhaps a story about how you crashed and burned and lived to tell about it? Leave a comment!