by Megan Webster
If you experience anxiety before (or during) an oral presentation, here are some tips to help you stay calm and in-control:
Before Your Presentation
● The best way to improve your public speaking abilities is to practice. Consider joining Toastmasters, or take a course on Oral Presentations.
● Take the time to create a clear, coherent plan for your presentation.
● Put special effort into organizing the introduction. If you feel confident during your introduction, chances are, you will feel the same during the rest of your presentation.
● Plan some visuals. This will divert the focus from you, and reduce your anxiety.
● Practice your presentation in front of friends before the actual event.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Practice these techniques in the days leading up to your presentation. Practice first at home, and then in more stressful environments, e.g., in a classroom, or on the bus.
● Breathe in deeply through your nose. Then, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Focus on the feeling of the air as it enters and exits your body. Breathe out your anxiety.
● Create a peaceful scene in your imagination. Imagine yourself in a favorite place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. It might be a beach, a forest, or even a favorite cozy armchair. As you imagine yourself in that place, let go of your anxiety.
● Tense and release your muscles. Starting with your feet, tighten the muscles for three seconds, and then consciously relax them. Move up your body, tensing muscles, and releasing the stress.
Practice Positive Thinking
● Don’t concentrate on your nervousness, but rather think of it as excitement. Convert the symptoms of your nervousness into positive energy.
● Psych yourself up! If you believe you can do it, you can do it.
● If you find yourself thinking negatively, STOP, and redirect your thoughts into positive self-affirmations. Be kind to yourself.
● Imagine the best possible scenario. Visualize yourself giving an excellent presentation.
● Fake it till you make it. Act confident, even if you don’t feel it.
● Do something your are naturally good at that makes you feel confident before your presentation.
● When speaking to a group, address them as though you were speaking to each person as an individual, rather than a group of people.
● Focus on your ideas. Keep your mind on the information you are presenting, not how you are feeling inside.
After your Presentation
● It’s over! Reward yourself! And don’t forget. Next time, it will be easier.