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June 8, 2019

Control Presentation Jitters

Many people fear public speaking more than they fear death! I’m not sure that’s true, but I do know many people feel presentation jitters before having to speak to a group. Whether you are presenting to a dozen people around a conference table or several hundred in a meeting room, you can control the jitters with these tips.

  • Be prepared. Know more than you will ever say in the presentation. That depth of knowledge will give you confidence that you can handle questions. Decide on the specific points you want to make and the order in which you want to make them, but don’t memorize them.
  • Control your breathing. Generally, when you are nervous, your breathing will become shallow and rapid. Take slower and deeper breaths and follow your breathing for a few minutes. This is a tried-and-true method to lower stress.
  • Smile! Smiling actually changes your body chemistry by increasing endorphins and serotonin levels. It lifts your mood, helps you feel more confident, and makes you seem more trustworthy.
  • Make good eye contact. Really look at people, pause, make a connection, and then move on. When presenting in a large room, break the room into four quadrants, move your gaze around, pause at each quadrant for a while, and look at people in that quadrant.
  • Get out from behind the lectern. You will be tempted to hang onto it like a life preserver. Instead, move around. This boosts your energy and communicates your energy to the audience. Don’t wander as if you are lost; move with determination, then stop and deliver part of your presentation before moving again.

Use the jitters to energize your presentation. A bit of nerves is good for you since the tension and adrenalin in your body can boost your performance!

“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” 

Mark Twain


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