In a corporate or professional presentation, there’s rarely a shortage of pressure to impress. We usually only have one shot with a client or investor, so it’s important to always make it count. Often heightened by this pressure not to choke, many experience serious stage fright when a presentation looms in the near future.
Most of us experience at least some sort of nervousness when speaking in public. While this can range from just mild discomfort to full-on panic, it’s an extremely common phenomenon. In fact, a recent study gave people the option between a mild electroshock and giving a short speech, and most people chose electrocution!
The adrenaline we experience prior to a presentation can be a distraction or a tool to help you focus; it’s all a matter of embracing it correctly. Here are a few tips to help channel your heightened anticipation in a positive way.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
It’s often instinctual to begin running through every possible awful thing that could go wrong during a speech when we become anxious about it. Getting stuck in a negative cycle of thought doesn’t do anyone any good, and if anything, over thinking these problems increases their chance of actually occurring.
Instead of sitting and brooding over what might go wrong, channel your energy toward something positive. When you feel yourself becoming anxious about a future presentation, address it in a constructive way. Run through your speech aloud or in your head, go through and edit your PowerPoint, or rethink your talking points. This will not only improve your speech, but this will also help provide you with a healthy distraction.
A Healthy Body and Mind are Key
Previously, we wrote about controlling one’s physiology for a presentation, which cannot be overstressed, especially when stage fright is a factor. Leading up to the presentation, avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol as much as possible.
Going for a run or taking a yoga class can help your body process stress much more effectively, which can help in alleviating the physical symptoms of stage fright.
Care for your mental health should be just as important. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to calm yourself down leading up a speech. Other alternatives are taking long walks or practicing meditation. Don’t underestimate these types of exercises when you encounter stressful situations.
Keep Your Focus on the Audience
Overcoming stage fright won’t be fixed overnight. Even if you do your best to follow the tips listed above, you may still be overwrought with nerves when it comes to show time. Here, it’s important to reinforce why you’re giving the speech: to present something of value to the audience. Try to put your focus on the message you’ll convey rather than being terrified about having to convey a message.
Most importantly, don’t shy away from fear of presenting. The more you practice and embrace speaking opportunities, the better and more comfortable you’ll be doing so.