Make your visualisation specific. Some people visualise audience members coming up after a presentation and complimenting them on a great presentation.
The Voice Business voice coach, Juliet Jordan, advised me that clients find one of the most powerful steps they can take is to say to themselves, as they are about to present, “they like me”.
Find what works for you.
Know that if you find yourself getting overwhelmed with nerves, it is fine to simply stop, take a breath and say to yourself “I can do this”.
The audience will scarcely notice and will assume you are just pausing for effect or to collect your thoughts. Remind yourself of this when preparing.
ALWAYS remind yourself to have a glass of water where you can reach it easily during your presentation.
Anyone who has experienced their mouth drying up during a presentation knows that it is a dreadful experience. In extreme cases, you can barely get a word out.
Even the most experienced speakers will pause for a mouthful of water; it is an accepted, common practice.
Know your operating temperature!
If you get hot and sweaty when you are nervous, cold water will be fine.
If, like me, you are inclined to shiver when you are nervous, you may find warm water or water at room temperature works better for you. Beware that conference organisers commonly provide cold water.
Wear clothes that help you to feel confident.
Chose your favourite business suit, shirt, skirt, tie etc. Make sure they have been dry cleaned. These little details give your confidence a boost.
Conversely, worrying about whether the audience can see the stain on your shirt or will notice how crumpled you are may make you unnecessarily anxious.
Plan to arrive early and organised.
Few things are more likely to make you feel nervous than being stuck in the traffic and wondering if you will make it to your presentation on time.
Always allow a large buffer of time between your planned arrival at the venue and the start time for your presentation.
Over-prepare your opening.
It is unlikely that you will stay nervous all the way through a presentation. If you practise and revise your opening lines until you are comfortable with them, it will provide a good boost to your confidence and help you to deliver the rest of your presentation confidently.
If you are using PowerPoint or another presentation platform, plan to get an engaging slide up early.
This will allow you to feel that the audience members are not all looking at you.
This was a tip given to me by an experienced presenter many years ago when I first presented on closed-circuit television. While I now believe that Powerpoint, although a wonderful resource, is overused and can be counter-productive if not used thoughtfully, this tip remains a valuable one if you are using Powerpoint and are anxious about your nerves.
Know your material.
It is natural to focus on techniques to help deal with nervousness. But don’t forget the basics. Ensuring that you know your material well is the most important part of your preparation.
Never try to bluff or wing it – audiences sense whether you are authentic. More importantly, you will know and being unsure of your material is likely to make you feel nervous.