You’ve heard me say this a bunch: presentations will get you business. I know that presentations are scary to some people … well, to lots of people. I certainly had to spend time acting as if I was confident before I was actually confident doing them in front of people I didn’t know. Even now, I’ll get nervous in front of new audiences but I have tricks that can calm me down.
How I help myself is to keep some reminders on hand of things I’ve done or learned from others.
Can I share?
Tips for feeling less nervous the next time you give a presentation
- Try to practice you talk in front of live people. I had been working on a presentation and asked family members to have a listen. My audience that day was Russ and my daughter, Caitlin. Wow, was I ever glad I did that! I could feel how awkward some of the parts of it were as I was delivering it! When I was done, they both said the same thing: Cut it by a half. They were absolutely right. I could hear it myself; I was giving away way too much information. I was so glad I discovered that with them and not with my real audience.
- With the end of the presentation in mind, I’ll write out what I plan to say in the last five minutes and then practice it a bunch. This is the part of the presentation when I’ll be inviting audience members to become my clients. I want to have as much energy at the end of the talk as I did at the beginning. Because the end – when I’m asking for the sale – is generally the scariest part for me. If I don’t practice it full throttle, I’ll wiggle out of doing it at all. Have you experienced that yourself? It might be easy to be brave and engaged for the first forty-five minutes and then fade before you get to the big ask. If I’ve practiced it over and over, it’s easy. I don’t just practice it in my head, I practice it out loud. I find my confident voice and say every single word. This practice has been a lifesaver.
- Here’s a quote I’ve saved for years. It’s by the famous British actor, Michael Caine. He says, “Rehearsal is the work and performance is the relaxation.” And that’s what comes from practice!
- Here’s a tip I got from a fellow speaker. She does a breathing exercise away from the audience minutes before she begins her talk. Here’s how it goes: Breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold for five seconds, then exhale through your mouth for ten seconds. When I do this I repeat this 5-5-10 exercise, three to five times. This helps me relax, get out of my head, into my body, and be present for my audience. If my nervousness wins, I’ll be imagining all kinds of imagining worse-case scenarios. Not good!
- At our Monthly Marketing Bundle retreat last June, we were all in a workshop on creating videos. One of our MMB members, Karen, demonstrated what she does before facing a camera (which of course would work for facing an audience too). She does a happy dance, just swinging every limb every which way, looking totally zany all the while she’s doing it. We were just delighted and giggling watching her. I wish I had a video of her dance just to show you. All you have to do to create your own happy dance is to dance like no one’s watching, perhaps mimicking a three-year-old at an outdoor music festival. How did she appear in her video clip? Totally present, fun, and engaging. Aren’t those the qualities we want to show our audience?
- Another friend gave me an exercise that also involves body movement. Slip off your shoes, stand on one leg and shake the other one. Switch legs and repeat. When you put your foot back on the ground, it will feel lighter. It channels all your nervous energy into the floor so you’re not nervous in front of the group. Brilliant, right?
- I always bring handouts to my audience members. They aren’t just outlines, they are full tips about what I’m covering. I want them to know that if a storm came through and the lights went out and I had to cut it short, that they’d still have all the info I’d planned to share. I made a point of this after having an experience during a presentation that wasn’t great. Have you been in an audience watching the time, wondering how the presenter is going to get through all the information she said she would? And sure enough, she runs out of time and says something like, “I’m sorry we didn’t get time to cover the other points I wanted to share with you.” And aren’t we just sure that the best part is what she left out? Or maybe the part she left out was the whole reason we signed up for the event? I wish I could say I’ve only seen this happen once. I’ve seen it a lot. To protect my audience members from having that happen to them, I pay close attention to the timing of each section of my talk. I know what section I’ll have covered after 15 minutes; after 30 minutes; after 45 minutes. As a backup, I tell them from the beginning that I’m leaving them with an extensive handout that covers everything I’d planned to tell them. That way they can relax and just enjoy the talk knowing they aren’t going to miss out on a thing.
I hope your next presentation goes really really well and that you get new clients from it.
You probably have some great presentation tips too. Care to share?