How to Overcome Presentation Nerves

We’re now going to look at anything that might stop you being confident in your presentation. ie those nerves that can kick in the minute you start to think about having to present.

Its important to think about why people get nervous and the effects nerves can have on you when you present. There are all sorts of symptoms that can be created through nerves.  And sometimes they can manifest themselves quite a lot when people present.

So the more you are aware of them and aware of the fact that its quite normal to feel nervous then the more that you can actually start to overcome them.

Preparing yourself to present

The first thing is to think about is preparing yourself for your presentation.

We’ve already covered preparing your presentation – ie the planning, structuring, the visual aids etc but there’s also you – the presenter and how best to prepare yourself.

Obviously the benefits of proper planning are very important – and will certainly help to reduce nerves.  However there are other things that you can do to fully take control of the nerves before you present.

Physical techniques

The benefits of breathing are often overlooked but this one simple technique can reall help to calm you and slow you down. Have a look at our article on breathing techniques to overcome presentation nerves for some more background on this.

When you are nervous you probably also speed up your speech.  So controlling the speed that you speak at is a good way to help control your nerves.

There are lots of other physical strategies that people employ to help reduce nerves and focus their minds and we’ll cover several more in a later article.

Psychological techniques

There are also some key pyschological techniques that you can apply to help you to kick out those negative thoughts that can creep into your mind and reduce your confidence.

These techniques can help you to maintin a positive mental attitude towards your presentation and help you remain  in control if any negative thoughts start to creep into your mind.

One technique is to imagine that the presentation has just taken place – and it that was successful.

Spend time imagining that success – and how you feel at that time.  Imagine the voices and other sounds that you hear at the end of the presentation and what the audiences’ faces look like and what else you can see in the room.  Take time to imagine all of the positives about the presentation that made it a success.

A lot of the time our imagination focuses on the negatives – so forcing it to focus on the positive can help to turn things around and will help build your confidence.

Rehearsing the presentation

We’ll also look at the practical techniques of how to rehearse and to actually apply the techniques you have developed to all sorts of presentations that you might actually do without even realising it because experience is obviously one of the best ways to get rid of your nerves.  The more presentation experience you have the more confident you will feel.

Finally we’ll look at how to control that nervous energy just before you present – what you can do that 3 minutes before you present, what you can do 20 seconds before you start and also what you can do during your presentation if the nerves start to kick in again and how to try and control things.

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16 Responses to “How to Overcome Presentation Nerves”

  • ngoan:

    i am always nervous when making presentation.maybe this is due to my teacher said to me that i have problems with pronunciation,intonation,etc.i feel not confident.i am trying but i am rather worried.please help me.thanks in advance

  • Lenny Laskowski:

    I encourage my clients to learn to have a conversation with your audience. Most people approach presentations as “performance”. In doing so, you will always feel people are judging you. Learn to bring to your presentations, the same conversational style you use when talking to friend you just ran into at the store.

    Learn to focus more on your message and less on your performance.

    Lenny Laskowski, National Best Selling Author, “10 Days to More Confident Public Speaking”


    Hi Lenny, thanks for your comments.

    There are lots of valid ways to help address nerves. A lot depends on the context, the presenter and the audience.

    People need a range of different strategies to call on – and learning to have a conversation with the audience is certainly one of them. I think in that context “learning” is key. As it doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

    I’ve often heard that “just be yourself” is the best approach when presenting. The problem is that “being yourself” when presenting to a potentially hostile audience of 30 or 40 people (for example) can take quite an amount of “learning” compared with presenting to a small group of friendly faces.

    I’m not sure however that I agree with you that most people focus too much on their performance (if by that you mean the presentation delivery aspects). In fact quite the opposite is often the case in my experience. The focus often tends to be on content and PowerPoint and the actual delivery of the presentation is left to take care of itself.

    Having a clear focus on what you want to achieve from the presentation and what’s in it for the audience is obviously vital to any presentation’s success. But being able to deliver that message confidently and convincingly is just as important.

    And if some of the audience can’t make out what you’re saying because your speaking too quietly; mumbling or even speaking too quickly due to nerves then its all wasted effort.

    Having a balanced approach to both the message and its delivery is vital for success.

  • Prashant Hardikar:

    I am always nervous while making presentation.
    I am always thinking that what publik is thinking about me,how i am looking,is publik making laugh of me,my hands & legs are shaking etc.& this all happens at the begening of presentation
    My throat is drying many a times while presenting.
    Please give me some tips to overcome this psychological problem.

  • micky:

    hi it is good

  • Gerald:

    woooo! this is very interesting.. many lessons you will learn from this Presentation skills.

  • David Newsum:

    Most presentation nerves are useful, understandable and normal, and you just have to find coping strategies. However, when nerves take over, and push you into panic mode, then is the time to explore “why?” Two common issues in my experience, having taught presentation skills many times, are:
    1. Lack of practice – unfamiliarity with the presenters’ “zone” – this
    needs a commitment to volunteer for lots of presentations so you can get the experience of some good ones, and learn from the “not so good” ones!
    2. Lack of self esteem – a good presenter is confident they have something worth sharing that is exciting, different and useful to the audience. If that is the case, even an average nervous presention will be successful and well received. If all else fails tell your audience – “I am nervous about this presentation because what I have to share is really important and useful to you, and I want to do it justice!” If on the other hand you have a presentation that is neither exciting, different nor useful to the audience, then you do not have a presentation!!!! Always start with WHY! “Why is this worth doing”, and don’t plan until you can answer positively.

  • mobiiih:

    Before presentation, a person should have a clear head and make sure that they focus on what they will be say in front of the audience.

  • RDs:

    Very interesting insights…there seem to be quite a few people facing the same problems as I do in presentation ( as opposed to plain public speaking — which is mostly extempore and can be improvised)


    During presentation my tongue stop.i can not explain my topic.plz help me out.

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