You’ve got a big meeting coming up and you’ve got to present your ideas to an important client. If you’re breaking out in a cold sweat at the thought of it, here are 7 tips on how to calm your nerves.
Don’t turn up to an important meeting and try to wing it. You’re bound to forget something or trip up when someone asks you a difficult question. Leave yourself enough time to thoroughly research your subject and practice your presentation out loud – even if it’s only in front of the mirror. You could also record yourself speaking and play it back to see how you look and sound.
Public speaking coach and author Darlene Price says that “6 Ps” are vital for giving a good presentation: Proper Preparation and Practice Prevent Poor Performance.
2. Breath and stretch
If you’re feeling really nervous, find somewhere private before the meeting and do a few stretches and knee-bends. This will help you get rid of any excess nervous energy before you go into the room. Take several slow deep breaths to get oxygen to your brain. Breathe in through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out through your mouth for another three seconds. This will help you to relax and focus.
3. Learn the opening lines
The beginning of a presentation can be the worst bit as your adrenaline kicks in and you start to gabble and forgot your words. To prevent this happening, memorise the opening lines of your presentation so that you can say it without struggling. Once you’ve got over the first bit, you’ll usually find that your words start to flow as you relax into it.
4. Drink plenty of water
Anxiety can cause you to get a really dry mouth and stumble over your words, which is no good when you’re in the middle of your presentation. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before the meeting. And keep a bottle of water handy in case you start to feel nervous.
5. Research your audience
If you’re speaking to people you’ve never met before, do a bit of background research on the meeting participants so that you know who you’ll be talking to – and what they want to gain from the meeting. If you feel confident enough, arrive early at the venue and spend some time talking to a few people. That way you’ll be more familiar with your audience and feel more comfortable talking to them. Doing your research will also help you to know how formal to be, or if it’s appropriate to crack a few jokes.
Even if you’re faking it, smiling can actually alter your brain activity and make you feel happier. Recent research from the Association of Psychological Science found that even fake smiling can lower your heart rate and reduce stress levels. Smiling also makes you look more confident, and your audience will warm to you if you look happy.
7. Channel the energy
Feeling nervous isn’t always a bad thing as it provides you with a surge of adrenaline. Your heart beats faster, blood pressure rises and your senses sharpen. Research suggests that nervous energy can stimulate you in a good way, as long as you channel it in a positive way. If you feel fit to burst with increased energy levels, walk around the room and encourage your audience to interact with you. This can show how passionate you are about your subject and make your audience feel more involved.
Have you ever let your nerves get the better of you during a meeting? Share your experiences and let us know your top tips for coping with presentation anxiety.
Posted by Julie Tucker