In spite of stress, anxiety, awkwardness …..
Recognise any of these feelings in the lead-up to giving a presentation? Even the most practised performers can experience these emotions. Think of singers like John Lennon, who performed on stage thousands of times, but who was often sick before his live performances. Adele, and the actor and public speaker, Stephen Fry, both suffer from stage fright. Being in front of an audience is stressful. But the adrenaline of these ‘nerves’ can energise you, too!
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How often have you heard, ‘practice makes perfect’? The main benefit of practice is to develop your familiarity with the task in hand. As this familiarity increases and the words become almost routine, feelings of anxiety decrease, and so impact your performance less.
How about trying these two techniques?
- Recite the presentation content from start to finish at least 5 times. By the time you’ve done this, you may be bored – that’s the idea! Once you know your material so well, you should feel confident in delivering it to others. Try another 5 times, focusing on your voice. Slowing the speed down makes your presentation easier to understand, and betrays your anxiety less. This creates a virtuous circle – people can’t hear the anxiety, including you!
- Then, find a kind friend or someone you like, to say your presentation in front of. Perhaps you could do the same for them. (If you can’t find anyone willing, at least record yourself, to replicate the effect of someone watching you.) Get the person to sit on a chair facing you, to keep silent, and to give you feedback afterwards about your body-language, eye contact, and clarity of speech. Are there parts you rushed through? Was it loud enough?
Doing this will help you feel less anxious when you get up in public, knowing that you’ve already presented your material to at least one person in a similar set-up.
…… smoothly delivering your presentation in a calm, clear voice.