How to Avoid Stage Fright During a Big Presentation

Your palms start to sweat. You blink rapidly. Your breathing becomes tense and heavy. The audience seems like a hundred Jack Nicholsons judging your every move.

jack-nicholson-colonel-nathan-r-jessep-A-Few-Good-Men

Then the lights in the conference room start to play mind tricks on you. For a moment you’re stuck in presentation limbo, and all of the important characters are there to see you either fail or succeed spectacularly.

Because let’s face it: Whether it’s internal presentations on quarterly targets or product demos for prospects, every presentation counts. And as the presenter, you need the confidence and clarity to deliver perfection every time. Here are a few reminders to help avoid presentation jitters.

Manage Your Stress - Stressful environments or situations will bring a confident person to their knees. You could try and fake your way through a presentation if you’ve just gone through a stressful period - or still are - but that’s not healthy in the long run. Managing your stress doesn’t just get you through the presentation; it helps you plan your presentation better, allows you to practice your speech with a clear head, and just helps you be you better.

No Matter What, Speak Slowly - When you’re nervous or excited, your speech patterns rise. The faster they rise, the more you start to think about it . The more you think about it, the less you’re focusing on the presentation. The less you think about the presentation, well… you get the idea.

Always. Speak. Slowly. The slower your speech, the more you enunciate every syllable and avoid confusing the audience. And speaking of articulation…

Keep Up With Articulation Exercises - When you speak more clearly, you gain tiny amounts of confidence. Now, I’ve always struggled at some point to not cross my words when talking to friends, family, co-workers, etc. It was because I naturally tense up for no other reason than just because I tense up when it’s my turn to talk. And while my speech patterns aren’t exactly crystal clear, they’re leaps and bounds better than they were because I went back to speech exercises.

Here are six phrases I’ve always returned to that help hit  vowels and consonants of every word that comes out.

  • Elmo eats eggplant with Eleanor the elephant
  • Green tea ice cream is a treat to eat
  • Cedar shingles should be shaved and saved
  • Irish wristwatch
  • Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran
  • Six short slow shepherds

And obviously understanding your product or whatever you’re pitching, how to outline your presentation and other major presentation talking points are key. For that, we point you to our series, Presentation Skills.

But when the jitters come up, when your emotions start to play tricks on you, and you feel you’re about to unleash jumbled sentence after jumbled sentence, take these reminders with you and build clear communication from start to finish.

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