A big presentation is looming in your future and the nerves start to creep in, you start to think what will happen if I mess up? I know that feeling as I have been there many times and struggled with it from time to time even through my college days right up until my senior presentation. While the nervousness never completely has gone away for me, it is manageable and it no longer hinders my ability to present well. In providing you with some of the ways I get over my nervousness I hope that you too can get over your nervousness and present the way you know you can.
Know your topic and know it well.
The best way to overcome the nervousness of a looming presentation is to know the topic you will be discussing and know it well. At this stage you need to forget about note cards and just focus on what you know and what you don’t. While it’s not the case for everyone when I got nervous during a presentation especially in college I would forget the things that I didn’t remember so well over the others. Preparing for a presentation works just like studying for a test, there is no point in practicing what you already know, but rather on the things you don’t know as well. Once you understand and know your whole topic when the nervousness kicks in you will have the confidence to overcome it and know your topic so well that you won’t forget important details.
Practice, practice, practice.
Nothing can prepare you better for a big presentation than practice itself. You shouldn’t practice reading from a sheet as we tend to ad-lib and not remember word for word everything we want to say anyway, trying to stick to a pre-written discussion is never a good idea. When you practice instead you should make an outline of the key things you want and need to discuss in your presentation and go through them, standing up as you would in a normal presentation setting making note of areas you still need work. Once you feel confident enough in this regard get friends and family to sit and listen to your presentation and ask questions afterwards of you. Not all presentations will have a question and answer session at the end, but doing this will build your confidence that you know your subject and get rid of the nervous feeling if and when there are questions at the end. There is no such thing as too much practice when it comes to presentations, but don’t stress yourself out if you slip up here and there and take proper breaks from practice.
Get plenty of sleep and eat well.
The more tired you are the more stressed and nervous you will become. When you haven’t got enough sleep your body will react accordingly and you are more likely to have nervousness due to your body not having proper rest. Sleeping well doesn’t just allow your brain to function better, but we retain the things we learn and practice when we sleep so the more you sleep before a presentation the better. Another thing that is often overlooked is eating well before a presentation. Just like before taking a test eating healthy before a presentation helps your brain process and function better and you will be able to think quicker as your brain can process information quicker. The last thing you want is to have to think too much when giving a presentation as the nervousness you feel can sometimes creep up. Be confident in your abilities and trust yourself, you can do it and you can conquer your fears.