It’s only natural to have butterflies in your stomach before giving your big pitch or presentation. Even those who give presentations regularly can struggle with jitters. The good news is, there are practical steps you can take to alleviate those jitters, and to build some confidence before your presentation begins.
Simple Strategies for Building Confidence
Consider some of these approaches:
Speak self-affirmations out loud. Self-affirmations aren’t just pop psychology; there’s real evidence to support the idea that, by speaking positively to yourself, you can boost confidence and calm your nerves. Direct some praise at yourself before giving your presentation: “You will give a great presentation. You are a dynamic presenter. You will be engaging and professional.”
Get some blood flowing. No, you don’t want to do vigorous exercise and work up a sweat just before giving your presentation—but there’s benefit to some light activity that boosts your heart rate just a little. A brisk walk or some quick stretching can work wonders.
Take a few deep belly breaths. Again, this isn’t just a cutesy cliché. Anxiety can tighten your muscles and cause you to be stiff, but some deep inhalations will loosen you up—which can, in turn, help you adopt a more confident and assured posture during your presentation.
Rethink your anxiety. Studies have shown that when you try to ignore your anxiety, it just makes it worse. When you rename it, though—calling it excitement instead of anxiety—it can help you be more positive. Don’t tell yourself that you’re feeling nervous; tell yourself you’re excited.
Emphasize the value you’re about to provide. Focus on the giving. Remind yourself that you’re about to share some information that will truly be helpful to people. Review some of the ways in which your audience is going to benefit from what you share. Emphasize your role as a gift-giver.
Rehearse your opening. You may not have time to run through your entire presentation before it begins, but you can probably find the time to practice your opening minute—which will allow you to start more confidently, looking your audience in the eyes and being sure of what comes next.
Know the area. Whenever possible, make sure you spend a few minutes checking out the meeting room, as well as the AV setup, before your presentation. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings so that you’ll feel a little more comfortable during the presentation itself.
Act like you’re happy to be there. In other words, smile! This relaxes the body and can help melt away a little of your apprehension. Plus, it helps you seem more approachable to your audience.
Become a More Confident Presenter
At the end of the day, you may not think of yourself as a natural-born orator—but the truth is, anyone can become a compelling and persuasive public speaker. We’d love to talk with you more about some of your specific struggles or presentation goals. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development and ask us about our executive coaching services!