Talking to people is a necessity when it comes to business. Most people are fine conversing normally, but when it comes to presenting to a group of people, all sorts of knots may be tied up. Even people who may seem charismatic when talking to people singly can feel nervous when a room full of eyes are trained on them. Whether it be presenting a sales pitch to a group of decision makers or presenting your ideas to your team in a meeting, here are some ways to help you get over the presentation anxiety.
Prepare well in advance
Nothing can feel more daunting than having a bunch of eyes and ears watching and listening to your every stutter, fumble, and mistake. Part of the pressure and anxiety comes from you fearing what could happen if you failed. Preparation not only helps to make sure you give your presentation the best quality you can, but it also provides you with confidence knowing that your preparations will lead to a better presentation.
Know your topic. You won’t need to scramble for notes or spend time thinking about the information in your presentation if you have a good grasp of what it entails. Furthermore, it will make it much easier to answer any questions that come your way. To further prepare for this, brainstorm all sorts of questions that might be asked and come up with answers to them.
If you plan to have any digital aids in your presentation, know where they are and where you can use them. Of course, technology is not always flawless so when technical difficulties arise you should have a way of continuing your presentation regardless. Perhaps create a physical slideshow or have multiple backups especially if your presentation is heavily reliant on visual information.
Lastly, practise. Practise in conditions similar to an actual presentation and do it until you feel comfortable.
Focus more on the presentation than the audience’s reactions
Another thing that brings about anxiety is the anticipation or assumption that your audience may find fault with your presentation. The truth is, many pay more attention to the information being relayed rather than the presenter. Yes, a good presenter will give a memorable presentation, but keep in mind that you are critiquing your presentation more harshly than anyone else. Slight stumbles might be noticed by only you alone while the audience is the most unaware.
There are always going to be people in the audience that will be bored or tired. Instead of focusing on pleasing everyone, focus on giving a great presentation. No matter how important the presentation is, put your efforts and skills before the reaction of the audience. The less you think about how the audience is reacting, the less anxious you will be.
Remember, silence is not a jab at you personally. Maybe your point is not as well loved as you thought it would be or your joke was not as well received as you thought it would be. That does not mean your point was terrible or that your joke was unfunny. Not all audiences react in the same manner.
Speaking of silence, your silence on your part is not a bad thing either. Your presentation should flow at a breathable pace. A pause here and there gives the audience enough time to process what you said. In storytelling, pauses work the same way to capture the audience’s attention. They create suspense and anticipation, drawing in people’s attention, and they provide a brief resting period before moving on to the next talking point.
Ensure you go in with a healthy mindset
Remember, your performance does not indicate your value as a person. We all have bad days and many people can overlook shortcomings. If you need to take a breather or a moment to recuperate your thoughts, many people wouldn’t mind. As said previously, silence is not all that bad. Your presentation does not have to be perfect. In fact, a bad presentation is just another way for you to learn how to improve your next presentation.
Sometimes we get stuck on the image of who we used to be. Oftentimes, when we criticise our abilities, it is based off of an older version of us. If you still doubt yourself, think about the progress you have made. You will see that your skills are not nearly as terrible as they once were. Additionally, it serves as proof that even if your presentation flops, you have the capacity to improve.
If you still can’t believe in yourself, fake it till you make it. Tell yourself that you can do it even if you can’t. Visualise how you are going to do it. These positive thoughts can help to relieve anxious thoughts and maybe boost your confidence. Sometimes, the only thing we need to be brilliant is that confidence.