Conquer your nerves before your presentation
You know the feeling: you’re about to give a big pr e s e nt a t i on a nd y ou r ner ves s et i n. You f e el pressure in your chest. Your breathing gets shallow. Your blood pressure i ncreases. And suddenly it seems inevitable that you’re going to mess this up − and everyone will see.
Evolution explains why you feel this way. It used to be that the increased adrenaline and cortisol pumping through your system in times of stress helped us f lee or fight in the face of predators. In business, the threats to our well-being are largely psychological instead of physical − yet our bodies fail to differentiate significantly between the two.
While there is some difference in how the brain processes physical and social pain, our neurological response to getting pinched, for example, is strikingly similar to our response to rejection. And since public speaking offers us the opportunity to face rejection on a grand scale, it’s no wonder that some people fear it worse than death.
Though these are powerful and natural reactions, it ’s possible to overcome them.
The first (and most obvious) way to quell your fears is to do everything you can to ensure that things go smoothly, and that means you have to prepare. One of the most nerve-wracking talks I ever prepared for was my presentation at TEDxEast. I knew that this performance in particular could have a huge impact on the way the world viewed presentations − and my business. So, I rehearsed for 35 hours.
It’s not exactly news that preparation helps you convince your audience that you know your material. But you’ll also benefit by making your talk a more Once you’ve prepared to the hilt, start getting comfortable with uncertainty. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we can have total control over a situation. You can’t. At a certain point you have to trust that you’ve done all that you can to prepare, and leave it at that.
Nerves often start to build when we think people can tell we’re nervous. In most cases, they can’t. If you stumble, act as though it didn’t happen. You can’t control the audience’s reaction, but you can lead people in the direction you want by remaining calm and loose.
Speaking of audiences, get used to looking at blank faces − or faces that are distracted altogether. When you’re talking to somebody one-on-one, you get the physical and verbal cues that someone is listening. Groups of people don’t always do that. They’re not judging you. They’re probably trying to be polite and listen. The key is not to let anyone’s body language faze you. Chances are, your audience wants you to succeed.
YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE AUDIENCE’S REACTION, BUT YOU CAN LEAD PEOPLE IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT BY REMAINING CALM AND LOOSE.