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How To Prepare YOURSELF for Presentations: 5 Simple Steps to Stay Calm and Focused

calm-1 How do you prepare YOURSELF for presentations? In my last post, I offered three simple preparation steps to be on target for your next presentation.  But all the preparation in the world won’t get successful results if you’re nervous or appear to be. It’s important to know how to prepare YOURSELF for your presentations.

I once worked with a woman who said she gets nervous because she knows everyone is looking at her. My advice to her was to say to herself, “and I’m looking right back at you!” In fact, that’s the real issue isn’t it? We get so concerned about what other people will say or think about us that our focus is inward versus outward where it belongs.

Here are five simple steps to stay calm and focused on your audience.

  • Be aware of your self-talk: Did you know the average person speaks out loud approximately 125 words per minute yet has an internal conversation of about 625 words per minute? That simply means we have plenty of time to talk ourselves in or out of being nervous. “I’ll never get through this”, is not helpful self-talk.In fact, if you say that often enough it will come true. On the other hand if you were to say to yourself, “This audience wants me to succeed because they need this information”, your nervous energy will be transformed into excitement as you share your valuable content.
  • Smile and open your eyes: Whenever a workshop participant views his/her video recording they usually comment on how they looked so serious. We think we’re smiling when in front of groups but usually we’re concentrating on what we’re going to say and that makes us look serious.I suggest that you stand in front of a mirror (or camera) and rehearse your presentation out loud. Smile! Raise your eyebrows! That friendly open-eyed look will signal to the audience you’re engaged and excited.
  • Picture success: Habit 2 of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People said: “Begin with the end in mind”. Remember back to a successful presentation you’ve made and revisit those feelings of accomplishment. Listen again to the applause and the laughter. Imagine yourself closing the presentation with a strong core message and the audience eagerly asking questions to learn more about your topic. As you take center stage in your next presentation, step into that circle of success and enjoy.
  • Launch with confidence: I heard a coaching client say to me, “Once I get going, I’m fine. I struggle in those first five minutes”. Have you noticed how long it takes to leave a first impression? It’s a lot less than five minutes. In fact, Roger Ailes, Television Program Creator said, “Seven seconds is all that people need to start making up their minds about you.”You need to make the most out of those first seven seconds. Before you launch, take a breath, smile, say “Good Morning”, pause, look around the room and connect with someone’s eyes. It also helps to have your opening two minutes down pat.
  • Don’t drink caffeine: I know, this is the last thing you want to hear but believe me, your nervous energy will replace any energy a cup of tea or coffee will provide. All caffeine does is exaggerate the very symptoms of nervousness you’re trying to eliminate with the above steps. It makes your hands shake, your heart pound, and your body language jerky. Instead, have a room temperature glass of water handy if you need it.

Bonus Step: Don’t announce you’re nervous.

While you may think this admission will endear you to the audience, all they will do is watch for proof that you are nervous rather than listen to your presentation. Keep your nervousness a secret and you just might fool yourself into being calm. Remember, you never look as nervous as you feel.

If you take these five tips to heart, as my dad used to say, “You will be calm, cool and collected.”

About our guest author: Judie Knoerle, my colleague and author of UPFRONT Persuasion Through Presentation,  a globally branded presentations skills program. Judie is a presentations coach extraordinaire and she is called the “Presentations Whisperer” in Chicago where  she lives. – See more guest posts by Judie. 


 What do you do to stay calm? Share your best tip in comments below. 

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on November 1, 2013 in Handling Presentation Nerves, Presentation Skills, UPFRONT Persuasion™. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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