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Presentation Skills: Tips for overcoming nerves


Like anything, there are scales of nerves – ranging from actually what is only slight adrenaline right through to sweating or being sick.

For those who have already done my presentation course, this is a quick presentation skills reminder on overcoming nerves but if you haven’t done the training and nerves are a serious problem for you, long-term you need to tame your Public Speaking Monkeys. The fear isn’t helping or protecting you; in fact it’s preventing you from doing what you need or want to do. Once you have cleared less positive monkeys away, you will have made room for new, helpful thoughts. When you feel more positive, your body language will express that too. And it’s a winning circle, because when you have better body language, it’s easier to feel confident!

In the meantime, there are a few presentation skills training exercises you can do to help. A simple way to feel calm, confident, and ready for anything that comes your way is to stand properly. There’s an exercise in my book, with step-by-step instructions for getting into the ‘presenter state.’ Essentially, your stance should be feet parallel, a comfortable width apart and facing forwards. Your arms should be nice and relaxed by your side, and you should make a conscious effort to stand tall. You should feel totally grounded, like you are rooted to the floor.

Another useful exercise to build your confidence in advance of presenting is to think back to a time when you felt really confident – it could be any situation at any stage of your life. Some people find it easier to feel confident in a sporting activity or at a hobby they love. Think about how you felt at that time, what you could see and hear. When you’re really feeling that confidence again, store it in your mind by ‘tagging’ it. To add a physical tag, gently press your thumb and middle finger together on your left hand. Any time you feel you need a confidence boost, press your thumb and middle finger together, and the positive feelings should return.

As well as taming your Monkeys, the best thing you can do to combat unhelpful nerves is to be well-prepared and well-practiced. A little preparation goes a long way. Always prepare an outline before going anywhere near PowerPoint, or better still, don’t use it at all. Mind-mapping works is an effective way for visual learners to organise their key thoughts and ideas. The structure is really important, and in my book I cover  the 4MAT system I share with presentation skills training participants to structure presentations – and any form of communication. After good preparation, practice is key. Read the blog post on techniques for presentation practice for more information.

Simply Amazing Training offers professional presentation skills training courses for companies and individuals. Have a look at our Guide to our most popular training courses and presentation skills workshops or contact me today for a chat to discuss; we recognise that all of our clients are different and have different needs when it comes to their in house company training courses.

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