Five tips to calm your nerves before your big presentation
Do you dread being asked to give a presentation at work?
You have probably heard the greatest fear 70 percent of the population shares is public speaking. The visceral reactions my clients have mentioned include sweaty palms and armpits, dry mouth, heartbeat in overdrive, physical weakness, the mind going blank and feeling ready to pass out. If you can identify with any of these or have other symptoms of dread to add, kindly send me an email.
The next time you are called upon to present your report in the boardroom, here are five things you can do to help you through it:
Breathe. It is amazing how important breathing is (smile). Seriously speaking, when people are really nervous, they often unconsciously hold their breath. This means you are restricting the oxygen flow to your brain, which will in turn make you feel faint, dizzy and mentally foggy. So remember to breathe deeply and intentionally, from the diaphragm — in through the nose and out through the mouth. It will help to stabilize and calm you, plus you will increase your capacity to think.
Power pose. If you are unfamiliar, power posing is taking a physical stance that actually looks powerful. It is the posture Superman and Wonder Woman display in almost every photo. You can google power poses to get a visual. It is hands on the waist, feet set firmly apart with equal weight on both, head up, shoulders square, looking straight ahead. Social psychologists have conducted studies that show what we do with our bodies can trigger chemical reactions that can make us feel a certain way. In other words, if you want to feel powerful, choose a powerful posture. If you spend three to five minutes alone in a power pose before you take the stage, it will help you to feel more confident. I have clients who can attest to this.
Hydrate. Our nerves can sometimes cause our mouths to go dry, many people experience cotton mouth when they speak publicly. Begin to hydrate the day before; ensure you drink at least eight glasses of water. A well-hydrated body feels better. On the day of your presentation, drink eight ounces about 90 minutes prior. This will give you time to use the restroom before you take the stage.
Visualize. On the nights leading up to the day, just before you fall asleep, imagine the way you would like your presentation to go. Walk it through in your mind’s eye. See yourself calm and in control. See the audience engaged and responding to you the way you want. One of the most common and detrimental things people do is meditate on what they do not want to happen. This is the definition of worry, which is very disempowering. Focus only on what you desire.
Be audience-centered. When we are nervous and self-conscious, we are being self-centered. Turn your attention away from yourself and concentrate on making your audience feel comfortable and glad they spent their time with you. Talk to them, make it relevant, valuable and even enjoyable.
If you would like to learn to overcome your fear of public speaking in the workplace send an email for information on my upcoming workshop STAR on the corporate stage.
• Kim Welcome is CEO & founder of Influential Voice. She assists businesses and professionals to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills to increase their impact and influence. Her clients range from the country’s largest and most prestigious employers to public figures and individual professionals. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.