Feb 12, 2009

Nervous before Presentations?


Most people get nervous before they make presentations. Talking to an audience creates in us a fear. We start thinking...

What if I forget?
What if I say something wrong?

What if I do a bad job?
What if the audience asks a tough question?

How does one get rid of this stage fright? By actually attacking the very reasons which breed it. I recommend 4 simple ways to reduce nervousness.

1. Practice
Why will you forget what to say if you know everything you have to say? Know your content and rehearse it well. When you know the content, the chances of saying something wrong, or forgetting something get reduced. If you prepare your presentation the night before, chances are you will mess it up. Preparing at the last minute is a recipe for disaster.

Worried about what the audience will ask?
Prepare for 2 possible questions which can emanate from each of your slides. Be ready with your answers. This will take care of audience questions.

2. Reach Early
Your presentation starts at 9am. You reach the venue at 8.55am. What do you expect after that? Of course, you will be tense unless you have delivered the same presentation ten times before.

Reach your venue early. Go to the stage if you can, take a small walk. If possible run your presentation once to preempt any worries of a technical snag.

3. Know Your Audience
A big reason of stage fright stems from presenting to complete strangers. But what if the audience is known to you? The fear goes down. Do you get very nervous every time you make your quarterly business review presentation to the same boss?

Your nervousness keeps going down as you make more and more presentations to the same audience.

What if you are presenting for the first time to an audience? How do you get to know them? Try two things.

1. Find out more about the background of the audience.
2. Mingle with the audience before you have started presenting. A few known faces will make your job easy. You will start addressing them more and it will make you feel better.

4. Realize
Realize that stage fright is natural and even the most experienced speakers go through it. Being slightly nervous keeps you on your toes and gets the best out of you. The next time you are nervous, tell yourself "It is perfectly natural and will only help me deliver a better presentation."

Follow these 4 techniques to 'PERK' up your delivery every time you present.

What makes you nervous when you present? How do you plan to deal with it? Leave a comment.