A widely publicized and humorous statistic is that more people fear public speaking than they do death—at least so they say. Few people are “natural” public speakers. Most effective presenters have worked hard to obtain that status, and in some cases it may have taken months or years to get there. But for most people, who give presentations occasionally, you just want to overcome your nervousness and be confident. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Know your material well. If you are confident in your content and know it well, you will be more confident when giving your presentation.
- Practice your presentation until it flows smoothly. Again, the more comfortable you are with the content and delivery, the more confidence you’ll have when giving your presentation.
- If the presentation you’re giving is very important to you?for example you’re defending your dissertation?then consider working with a speech coach. Speech coaches can point out areas for improvement and bolster your confidence level.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before your presentation. The more rested you are, the easier it will be for you to relax and be confident.
- Watch your body language. When you’re nervous you may be more likely to stand with your arms closed or to jiggle an arm or a leg. Either of these postures may result in you losing your listeners’ attention. Make sure you’re standing in a relaxed position and use your arms and hands to gesture as you naturally would.
- Drink an adequate amount of water. Nothing kills your confidence faster than dry mouth. On the other hand, you don’t want to drink so much you can’t wait to get to a bathroom when the speech is over. The best tip is to drink the amount of water you normally do, but be sure to drink half a glass just before you present.
- Learn from your mistakes. Don’t expect that every presentation will go perfectly. It’s acceptable to make a mistake. Correct it, and take action to ensure the next time you won’t make the same mistake.
The best way to gain confidence is to practice your speech many times. Make sure you’re prepared in every way possible, and you’ll gain much more confidence. Also know that mistakes happen, and it’s fine if you make one.