Practical Techniques For Getting Over The Presentation & Training Delivery Nerves

Tips About Getting Past Your Nerves And Anxiety When Doing Speechs Or Delivering Training

By Robert Bacal

Believe it or not, MOST of us experience some nerves and anxiety reactions prior to, or during delivering a speech, or training presentation. I've come across a number of hints and tips you might find useful, gathered from professional speakers. Hope they help.

From Cheryl Gregory

It would take a rare individual not to get nervous before a speaking in public!
Butterflies in your stomach multiply before you begin and knowing exactly how to keep yourself calm can make a big difference when giving a speech.

I’m not a world-famous speaker by any stretch of the imagination and having a few speeches and presentations, these are merely suggestions from my personal experience in trying to fight my own butterflies.

  1. They won't notice. I've have been to conferences where the speakers told everyone afterwards how nervous they were. But in actual fact nobody in the audience had the slightest idea they were nervous and I'm’m sure nobody else noticed either. If you imagine nervousness as being your private secret, it is probable the secret will not get out!!
  2. Remember your audience are only human! If it is appropriate allow your speech to begin with a humorous ice breaker. To get the audience laughing before getting into more serious matters, will dispel much of your fright.
  3. Rehearse like crazy. When I have an important presentation, I practice in front of a mirror several times before I go on stage. This is especially important because it will keep you from forgetting your lines in a panic!
  4. 1. Look great! Make sure you are well groomed and do not have something about your attire that would undermine your confidence if the audience were to spot it!
  5. Accept you will feel fear and embrace it! Do not fight it. The worst thing you can do is to force yourself to calm down or hide signs of nervousness can backfire and make your problem worse.
  6. Breathe properly. When you are anxious about something the first trait is irregular breathing. Concentrate on trying to breathe long and slow breathes and learn to pause as you speak. There is nothing more tiresome than listening to a speaker who gabbles on a breakneck speed!

    Watch this Ted Talk on how to speak like a Pro;

From Conrad Potts

I would add to the really good advice here, one thing: 
I can imagine for a lot of people presentations/speeches are perceived as a threatening situation. if that's so, I believe you can go into self protect mode where the prevailing and preoccupying thought becomes, "will I make a fool of myself in front of all these people"? 
A lot of your energy and focus then goes into protection and not the message/what youhave to say. 
You can genuinely switch your internal dialogue to say, "I'm not important but my message is, so let me put my focus and energy on that!" 
When you do that, even if you only act 'as if'' it were true at first, your presentation will be transformed and the wonder and creativeness of "you" will be released and the energy and focus flows outward to your audience.

From Phil Dobson

3 things I find really useful: 

  1. Do at least 2 mental rehearsals (in very relaxed state) before the day of the presentation (even if they're only brief). How do you want to perform? Notice what you see, hear and feel. 
  2. Have the first 2-3 minutes of your talk NAILED. This will help you create a good first impression, engage your audience, and allow you to get into a relaxed 'flow' (assuming you know your stuff!). 
  3. Get there in plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the room / venue. 

From David Dayman

Think back to a time that you were particularly confident or did something extemely well. Really put yourself back in that space - feel how you felt, see what you saw etc. Then, imagine this feeling as a small bubble on the end of your finger - flick the bubble onto the ground infront of you before you deliver and then step into it so that you are now standing inside that bubble. when inside that bubble you are confident, brilliant...(add your own). 

This technique has helped me in the past by putting me into a positive frame of mind and if nothing else - it gives you something else to think about. 

I don't agree that one should over rehearse and finally - one can always do the 'death bed test'. Will you be worrying about this presentation/training delivery on your death bed? Probably not!


From Paul Walsh

Some wonderful advice here, which I'll be shamelessly lifting and using with the presenters I work with! A couple of things I suggest when I'm working with presenters... 

  1. If possible, arrive before the audience - walking into a room full of people can be far more intimidating than walking into an empty room. Plus, as much as it might be the last thing you want to do, small talk with people as they arrive can help create the feeling of being surrounded by some friendly people and distracts from anticipatory nerves....on which note... 
  2. When I'm asked if it's possible to get rid of nerves, I work hard to help presenters accept their nerves. For some, the feeling of nerves is made worse by feeling anxiety about being anxious - this can become a vicious circle and lead to nerves becoming disabling. If, as a speaker, I accept that it's perfectly normal to feel nervous beforehand, and that I'm able to work through these nerves, then it can prevent the vicious circle developing....

From Paul M Johnstone

There are some great points made so I’ll comment on one point. 
When it comes to fear of public speaking (75% of mankind has Glosophobia) I believe there is one point that helps all nervous speakers. Have a purpose. 

Everyone has mentioned rehearsing and not wanting to let yourself down along with everything else. 

For me the most important point is that you have a reason to speak. Your reason will help with your focus. Set your speech out just like a sales call, “Tell them you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them you have told them.” You now have a purpose and an outline. 

When writing the speech you can focus on your purpose and set up your finale to achieve the outcome you want. 

Working with nervous speakers I find that when they have a purpose, it helps calm their nerves because they have an anchor point. And for someone who is very nervous this is a fantastic place to start. 

My Favorite Techniques For Calming Speakers' Nerves And Anxiety

  1. Yes, focus on the audience, and seek out a friendly smiling face or two in the audience. That's incredibly helpful, when you realize there are happy people out there.
  2. Use the overheads/powerpoint to summarize, ALL your main points, and the structure of the class/presentation. If you get lost, all you need to do is display the next slide, read it to yourself, and you'll find your place.
  3. Don't prepare or try to read a speech verbatim. It's very hard to make this work, because it's too easy to lose your place, then you are really stuck.
  4. Keep a glass of water close by. If you get stuck, that's fine, because you can take a sip of water, and gather your thoughts. Silence is fine when giving a speech provided the audience believes you are silent because you are DOING something.
  5. Remember, the audience can't see your pumping heart, the shaky knees, or hear your chaotic thoughts.

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