Can you guess what this is describing?
Your hands are disgustingly warm and sweaty, your heart is beating at frightening speeds, you knees are weak and you feel like you’re going to collapse. Your fingers can’t seem to stop pinching each other. Each breath you take is getting progressively harder and weaker. Those butterflies in your stomach (the ones that everyone talks about in romantic movies) seem to be flying viciously into places they’re not supposed to. In a matter of minutes, you seem to have developed a stutter and the ability to crack your voice like a pubescent thirteen-year-old boy.
In medical terms, it’s called glossophobia, but for those of us without PHDs, it is what most people feel before speaking in public.
Let’s be honest, nobody wants to wants to sit through twenty minutes of some guy twitching and sweating through a presentation about why their software is the latest and greatest. Controlling your physiology for your presentation is crucial if you want your presentation to have any value to your audience.
You may not be a presentation expert, but you can certainly train yourself to be able to give an interesting and effective corporate presentation. Here are a few tips for that:
Find a way to relax right before your presentation. Take deep breaths, wash your hands with warm water, listen to your pump-up song (Kanye West seems to do the trick for me), or stretch. Find something that gets rid of your nerves but keeps you focused at the same time.
Be the body for your presentation. Let your fingers point, your hands wave, and your shoulders shrug. Movement is good; it keeps the audience focused on you. Just make sure to have it under control. Don’t be excessive with it. Pinpoint three people in the audience: one on each far corner of your vantage point, and one smack in the middle. As you speak, alternate making eye contact with each. This will help you know where to look and keep any nervous movements away.
Smile and laugh; they’re both contagious. It is instinctive for people to smile at a smile. Since you are in control of the mood in the room while you presenting, use it to your advantage. Smile and look happy, and soon enough your audience will mirror that. Speaking to a public that seems genuinely interested and happy to hear what you are saying will ease your nerves and relax your body. This in turn will make your presentation more human and organic.
Prepare for perfection. In his Art of War, Sun Tzu explains how “every battle is won before it is ever fought.” Practice every scenario, every word and movement. A LOT! If your presentation is interactive with the audience or includes questions, anticipate them. Use them to your advantage. Practice in front of anyone and everyone. Time yourself. You can even record yourself for critique. Know what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, when you’re going to say it, and how people will respond to it. Do this, and you will have won the battle.