he time is coming where you need to present your work. All that hard work that you put into your project has to be demonstrated in this upcoming presentation. Knowing that, it’s understandable to be a bit nervous for the moment you step up to speak for several uninterrupted minutes. Depending on the presentation, you may have a lot riding on this going well, which can only add to the stress. There are ways to prepare so once you get up in front of the crowd, you’re calm and ready.

This article covers:

  • How to prepare several days in advance
  • How to prepare just before the presentation
  • How to act in your presentation

The Days Leading Up to the Presentation

If you’re serious about being cool as a cucumber for your presentation, it can’t hurt to start preparation in the several days leading up to the big day. Confidence is going to be achieved most successfully once you feel completely prepared.

Practice Makes Perfect

Your presentation should be completed days in advance so that you can rehearsh multiple times, out loud, with a straight face. A presentation will be more engaging if you know what needs to be said in the moment and how you’re going to lead the audience into the next focus point. It helps to practice with something written out. Depending on the type of student you are, you may want to just write an outline of focus points on flashcards, or write out your entire speech. If you’re capable of memorizing these points, aim for that!

Practice isn’t just going to help you memorize the focus of your presentation. It will also make you more comfortable with the words coming out of your mouth. The less you’re worried about remembering every piece of information and what comes next, the more relaxed you get to be. You can think about the words you’re saying, and make sure those words are the appropriate ones to be using in the context of your presentation, and for your audience. It helps to record yourself and listen back to it to pick up awkward phrasings that could use rewording, your voice going too soft or too fast, and other bad talking habits.

Strategize for Questions

Nothing shows you know your stuff better than hitting a question with a killer answer. At the end of your presentation, if you are successful at involving your audience properly, they’ll have engaging questions they expect you to have an answer to. This should be a piece of cake if you prepare yourself for this portion of the presentation. It’s true you may not come up with all the questions you can prepare to answer, but thinking about what questions your audience might have is the right start to getting ahead.

Try writing down a few possible questions, and think up some answers you can be ready to give!

When you get hit with a question, your goal is to be helpful. Offer the answer if you have it. If you don’t, you don’t need to start panicking. Give a reason why you don’t know the answer, ask the audience if anyone else knows the answer, and offer an additional resource the questioner can turn to for further research.

Fight Your Fear of Public Speaking

If you are one of the many, many people who fear public speaking, the first step is to acknowledge it. Accepting the fear of presenting means you can make a plan to fight it. Denying any fear will only hold you back from being as prepared as you can be. It helps to say it outloud. I am really nervous about this presentation. Maybe identify if you can what about the presentation has you spooked -- is it the audience, the amount of speaking you have to do, the fear of messing something up? Once fear has been identified, it can be prevented.

It’s best to think about your nervous energy as something that can be transformed into enthusiasm. Delivering an energetic performance is the quickest way to engage your audience. The energy that’s getting you worked up might start as fear, but you can transform that energy into passion and focus on the project, which will give you the needed edge with your audience.

Just Before the Presentation: Last Minute Strategies for Giving a Successful Presentation

Wake up, it’s presentation day. There are still preparations for your presentation you can do moments before the start time to make this your best performance yet.  

Arrive Early

Getting to the presentation early gives you a plethora of advantages. Arriving early means you won’t be late, and that’s a good start. That last thing you want is your lateness to talk for you -- it’ll start off your presentation with the impression you’re unprepared and irresponsible. So get there early to avoid starting off on the wrong foot.

Arriving early also means you have extra time to prepare. Make adjustments to your surroundings, calm your nerves, and have the time to review your material one last time. Arriving early also gives you a cushion of safety if something goes wrong, such as if you can’t find the presentation room or your powerpoint won’t load. Having some extra time gives you the opportunity to address these problems without stress.

Get Comfortable With Your Stage

Getting used to your environment before a presentation can help with any nervousness you’re feeling. Arriving early will allow you to spend some time in the room you’ll be carrying out your presentation, which will allow you more comfort once it’s time for you to present.

No matter where your presentation will take place -- on a platform stage, or at the front of a room -- get there early to get comfortable with the space you have to work with!

Getting to know the environment includes interacting not just with the space, but with your audience. Do some casual meet-and-greet to find out more about your audience. This will help with any nervousness you have of presenting to a group of strangers. This also allows the audience to better know you, which can help with their receiving of the presentation.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Remember to breathe. You don’t want to be short of breath while you’re up there presenting. Being nervous might make you hold your breath without thinking, which means your brain is receiving less oxygen, and your muscles are tensing up. Taking deep breaths will help to keep you relaxed before your presentation.

Once you step in front of the audience, take one last deep breath that will serve as time for you to collect your thoughts and keep relaxed. Throughout the presentation, making sure you’re giving yourself time to breathe will act as a reminder to pace yourself and take your time.

In the Moment: What to Do if You Get Nervous During the Presentation

You’ve prepared for this moment. Now is your moment to shine. There are a few tricks you can keep in mind that ensure you don’t trip up during your big moment.

The Power of Smiling

It’s time to show off your best smile, even if you aren’t feeling it. Smiling releases endorphins that will convert your anxiousness into reassurance, and you may find yourself beginning to enjoy your time presenting. Smiling also helps you connect with your audience. It shows them you have confidence and are agreeable, which will make them more interested in what you have to say. Smile when it feels natural -- don’t force it, or drag it out for too long.

Smiling is going to comfort yourself and engage your audience, so why not give it a try?

Confidence in Your Pose

How you compose yourself in front of your audience is another important factor contributing to how they perceive your presentation, and the confidence you have in yourself. Maintaining a pose that you would take normally in a relaxed and controlled situation may bring on the real feeling of assurance and confidence that will translate to your audience nicely on the stage. So what does a power stance look like? Sitting is too passive and won’t help with your confidence. Your best bet is standing and walking in the space you have.

Intentional Pauses

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of your presentation is clarity. You are up there in front of your audience to inform and grab interest, and you can only accomplish this by speaking loud and clear. Don’t talk too quickly, and give your audience time to digest information with pausing. Pausing is going to be your best friend. It’ll help you slow down, emphasize certain points of your presentation, and make your long speech sound more like a conversation. Which will relax you and engage the audience.

Sharing your work is an important conclusion to the hard work you put into a project. Presenting is about sharing information and getting other people excited about what you’re excited about. Having the jitters is only a small roadblock that you now have the tools to overcome.

Mar 2, 2020

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