So, you’ve written a fabulous speech, with a powerful start and a strong ending. Your slides look great and you’ve practiced endlessly. Now, it’s the day of the big presentation and there’s a lot at stake. No matter how experienced you are, you'll go through a range of emotions. You could be nervous, anxious or super-excited. Adrenalin and cortisol will kick in. Your heartbeat will go up and your palms will get sweaty. So how you do prepare on the day of the presentation? How do you make sure you’re ready to give it your best shot?
There are two areas to focus on. Firstly, controlling your nerves. Secondly, boosting your confidences. Here’s some suggestions on how to do this.
Strategies to Control Your Nerves
1 Get physical
Try to ease the tension in your body by loosening up. It’s no different to a warm up before sporting activity. Try the following.
Walk to the presentation venue. It doesn’t have to be long. 10-15 mins will be enough. Get to the venue with plenty of time to spare so you can acclimatise. Stand up for at least 5 minutes before you’re due to present, so you’re ready to go. Do some stretching. In particular, relax your neck and shoulders.
2 Focus on your breathing
Become conscious of how you’re breathing. Focus on long, slow, deep breaths. It gets oxygen to your brain, eases your anxiety and helps your body relax. If you like to meditate then find a quiet space and go through your routine. Sometimes music helps. It helps avoid distractions and keeps you focused.
3 Do a few vocal warm-ups
Make sure you do a few vocal warm-ups so you speak with power. There’s a fab Ted video here that explains how to do this. Treat your voice as a musical instrument. Make sure it’s finely tuned and ready for action. Stay hydrated. Make sure you’ve had a drink and there’s water to hand during the presentation.
Strategies to Boost Your Confidence
1 Create and repeat your affirmations
Learning from the world of sports psychology, a good technique is to create and practice affirmations. These are statements and phrases you say to yourself to boost your confidence and ease any feelings of self doubt.
Affirmations focus on visualising success. Create the phrases that work best for you. For example, ‘This Matters’ or ‘You’ve Got This’. Have them written and pasted around your workspace. Hold them in your head and repeat them when you feel you need a lift.
2 Go through your presentation rituals
Create your very own tried and trusted approach to ‘match day’ performance. We all feel more confident when we adopt and repeat the processes that have worked for us in the past. Do all the little things that make you feel relaxed and confident, at the right time and the right place. They could be quirky, but if the work for you, hold onto them.
3 Look your best
Sure, people are there to listen to you rather than judge your appearance. But looking your best will boost your confidence. Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and that you love. If in doubt, dress up rather than dress down. It’s better if your audience feels you’ve made an effort. If you feel you look good, then it will transfer into a great performance.
4 Try Power Posing
To find out more, watch Amy Cuddy’s inspirational Ted Talk here. In a nutshell, this is all about the power of body language. Adopting open, expansive gestures before you perform will boost your confidence. If you adopt the ‘Wonderwoman’ pose for 2 minutes you’ll feel ready for anything. Try it. The science says it works!
So, to sum up.
We all have to give important presentations in our lives and careers. They can have important consequences. It could be for a job interview, a pitch, a conference event. Once you’ve done all your practicing, make sure you prepare well on the day itself. To do so, focus on two things. Firstly, managing your nerves and secondly boosting your confidence. Try these strategies and adopt the ones that work for you. Get ready to give the performance of your life.