As a successful manager or business person, you have probably had plenty of opportunities to practice your presentation skills or public speaking. Often, this causes butterflies in your stomach and nervous sickness. But you’re a Pro, you get on with it, and it usually goes smoothly for you. The trouble is these horrible sensations we have to suffer before we start can begin to make us feel dread about the prospect of presenting and speaking every time.
If you are finding a deepening reluctance to speak publicly, you are not alone. The vast majority of us hate the prospect of it with a passion! On top of the nerves before you start, you may feel dry mouth as you try to speak. You may even start to stutter. Stopping stuttering is incredibly hard once it starts, and to do that in front of dozens of people makes you want just to turn and run away.
There are many methods to help you feel more confident in your role as a presenter or public speaker. Some managers take acting classes to build up their confidence. If you can act confident, eventually it will become a more natural feeling for you. Others take coaching on body language and speech so they can at least appear more confident in what they are talking about. It is the duck on the pond effect. Everything appears calm on the surface, but underneath, a lot of work is being done to keep you going.
It would be ideal if we could just be more confident personalities naturally. This requires calmness, confidence, and focus. Much of that comes from experience and knowledge of what you are saying. The more you know your topic of discussion, the more confident you will be in discussing it. Get to know your presentation intimately. Memorize it if you can so you won’t lose track of where you are should you forget to forward a slide.
Breathing techniques and good posture go a long way to keeping the mind clear and focused on what you have to do. Often our mind is scanning through everything our eyes see. We notice bad hair, cheap suits, yawning and staring going on in our audience. All of these things are highly distracting, so the words tend to come out of our mouths on auto-pilot. That is when they lose their conviction, and even their meaning. Be mindful of what is going on.
Try to keep yourself moving. This increases blood flow to the brain. A good snack and caffeine drink before you start help to keep your energy levels up. It is important to keep calm though, so don’t overdo the stimulants! If you are starting to sweat, slow down while you take a cold drink and lose the jumper. There is no rush when you are presenting, so remind yourself to slow it down if your words are racing away. Most importantly, breathe! Take a breath at the end of each sentence, not just at the end of a slide.