If there’s one thing I’ve learned about public speaking since I started working for Rule the Room it’s this…
When the Rule the Room team speaks to anyone about giving presentations, and specifically about fears and nervousness, the above is the one thing we tell them that immediately offers them some comfort.
Are you feeling those fears and nerves creep in?
Here are 10 ways to RELAX before giving your next presentation…
1. Identify your presentation personality
This one is number 1 for a reason.
Too many times we’ve seen people try presenting in a style that’s not true to them.
If you’re trying to be someone you’re not on stage, the audience can feel it, and you can lose them quickly…
…and it can sometimes be painful to watch.
If you haven’t done so yet, Take our Presentation Personality Test
You’ll be surprised of the knowledge and help this test will give you to deliver your next big presentation!
2. Phone a friend
Just like on Who Wants to be a Millionaire…
If you’re feeling a little stuck or scared… call a pal or loved one, or even chat with someone backstage before your presentation if you can.
You might even say, “Tell me something that will make me laugh,” which is so unexpected you may get a laugh from the other person and you may even respond with some laughter of your own.
Those brief moments of good vibes and a little laughter will help calm you down.
3. Interact with individual audience members before you go on stage
People often get nervous because they are unsure they will be able to get the audience to respond to them positively and that this will reduce their ability to convey their message.
The way to resolve this problem is to remember this key point…
The presentation is not about you; It’s About Them!
Focusing on other people keeps you from worrying about yourself, which automatically makes you less nervous.
Many presenters, including Jason, find that one way to calm themselves before a presentation is interacting personally with some of the audience members during the period known as “welcome time”.
More on that later!
4. Identify your presentation crux
Identify the two or three areas in which you’re good at but also love to do.
Right before you go onstage remind yourself of your presentation crux.
Reminding yourself of your presentation crux will make you pay less attention to what you don’t do well (and how your audience will respond)…
…and more on what you can do well and what you enjoy.
The confidence you get will be very powerful and help reduce your nervousness.
5. Find out what your audience has come for during the welcome.
So let’s dive deeper into “Welcome Time”.
Right out the gates you should be connecting with people during the welcome period, right before your presentation, and ask some version of this question:
“What’s the number one piece of advice you could get from this presentation that would make it worth your while?”
Once you have their answer, write down the person’s name and goal (and, in a small presentation, even make a note of where the person sat) and tell the individual at approximately what point in your presentation the need will be met.
When the appropriate moment presents itself say something along of the line of…
“I was talking with someone before this presentation who mentioned he wanted to increase his sales. Well, this will do that . . .”
If you really want to see an expert at work check out Jason talk about the use of “Welcome Time” in Opener: The Power of a Great Start.
6. Uncover audience needs in the first 30 seconds of the presentation
Use the circle of knowledge.
This technique prompts the audience members to say aloud what they want from the presentation and helps stimulate their interest by getting them involved.
Example: “Take thirty seconds and write down what you think are the top three qualities of a great loan.”
During those 30 seconds, the audiences’ focus is completely off of you…
…while they think of their responses…you get to relax, and gather yourself…
Plus you’ll get some great responses from the audience on what they really want to know more about.
7. Present the opener 5 minutes before the opener
Immediately before a presentation, practice away your last-minute jitters.
Remember, practice at least the first five minutes three times; double that if you are very nervous.
Again, If you want to see how a pro does it check out Jason in Opener: The Power of a Great Start.
8. Learn to APPEAR calm
Remember what we said at the very beginning of this post?
It’s okay to be nervous. You just can’t show it
Simply learning how to appear calm will help you to become calm.
I like to use the example of a duck.
When it’s swimming, underneath the water it’s paddling like the dickens, but the people on the banks or shore don’t see all that effort.
They just see the duck gliding smoothly and confidently across the water.
You want to create the same illusion.
At the beginning of your presentation, immediately take your position in the sweet spot, feet slightly apart, shoulders aligned with your hips, and arms at your sides.
Unless your opener obliges you to move, stand without moving for the first ten to thirty seconds.
Move your head only to swivel it from side to side.
The less you move, the less nervous you will appear.
You will appear the most calm and comfortable when you are standing still, looking directly at your audience.
9. Eliminate your nervous habits:
Here are 16 of the most common nervous habits to avoid…
As your read through this list, ask yourself which of these do you do?
- Shifting one’s weight
- Crossing and uncrossing one’s arms and (when seated) legs
- Pacing back and forth
- Rubbing one’s hands, arms, and so on
- Looking away from the audience (up, down, left, or right)
- Covering or touching one’s face
- Putting one’s hands in the Tyrannosaurus rex position, in one’s pockets, or behind one’s back
- Loosening one’s collar
- Overusing the mouse in a demo
- Blinking excessively
- Overusing one’s hands with constant hand movement
- Laughing inappropriately
- Widening one’s eyes for no reason
- Raising one’s eyebrows for no reason
- Letting one’s mouth hang open
10. Use a Blueprint (Not a script)
Minimize the chance of a misstep by working with a blueprint.
Not a script!
With a blueprint to refer to, you should be able to give your presentation without having to glance down more than once every three minutes and certainly no more than once per minute.
Of course, you can take a quick look “for free” as long as the audience doesn’t catch you at it.
The way to distract them is by giving a directional or asking for questions.
For example, you could say something like…
- “Look at the screen…”
- “Turn to page X…”
- “Write that down…”
In time, you may become an expert presenter who can go for five minutes without looking at your blueprint for reference.
How does that sound?
Acquiring that skill will help a great deal in making you look less nervous and more credible.
So there you have it!
You can eliminate all those fears and appear less nervous with these 10 tips.
It may be a lot to handle all at once…
We suggest trying to incorporate just 3 of the above tips in your next big presentation.
Once you have those 3 mastered, you can focus on another 3…
…and before you know it you’ll look totally RELAXED and have your audience in the palm of your hand.