You’re about to deliver your keynote speech or appear on a national television program. You feel unsteady on your feet. Your heart pounds. Beads of sweat form on your forehead.
Most people experience nervousness during public presentations, and probably for the same reason—they don’t want to make an embarrassing mistake that humiliates them in front of their peers and prevents them from achieving their goals.
There is no silver bullet for eliminating nervousness entirely. But you can
learn how to manage your fear more effectively and lose some of the butterflies that hinder your performance.
Here are five tips and techniques that have helped our clients manage their fear over the past decade:
1. Practice makes perfect.
Most people tell us that the single best way for them to reduce their fear is by getting familiar with their material and practicing in advance. Fear tends to recede for most people as they gain more speaking experience.
2. You don’t have to be perfect.
No one is judging you on a scale of perfection. You’re allowed to stumble over a phrase, say an occasional “ummm,”
or forget a word here and there. If you focus on doing the big things well—delivering quality content with passion—the audience is probably going to form a positive impression of you.
3. Remember, it’s not about you.
Stop focusing on your own fears and focus on the audience instead. Think about their
needs, and their
concerns. Remind yourself how your information can make their
lives better. Try to serve them
, make them
feel more comfortable. It’s not about you. It’s about them
4. Take long, deep breaths.
Adults breathe an average of 12 times per minute. That number goes up when you get stressed, which leads to a reduced concentration of carbon dioxide in your blood and oxygen in your brain. Taking long, deep breaths can help you regain control of your respiration.
Begin by slowly exhaling all of the air from your lungs. Next, slowly inhale through your nose until your lungs are full. Hold your breath for as long as you can comfortably do so. Slowly release the air through your mouth until your lungs feel empty again. Repeat this exercise 10 to 12 times.
5. Flex Your Muscles.
You can use a modified version of a technique called “progressive muscle relaxation” by flexing—then releasing—different muscles.
Sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Flex the muscles in your face for 10 seconds, then relax for 20 seconds. Move on to your neck and repeat the same exercise, continuing on with your shoulders, then your arms, then your hands, then your chest, then your stomach, and downward until you reach your toes.
Brad Phillips tweets at @MrMediaTraining.