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Presentation Skills for Nervous People

Presentation Skills for Nervous People

Presentation Skills for Nervous People

Many people find making presentations is a difficult and nerve-wracking experience. They feel nervous because they fear they will mess it up and look foolish.

However, there is a fail-safe method for making effective presentations which, if applied, allows anyone - including nervous people - to succeed.

The method which underpins effective presentations for nervous people consists of:

1. Clarity of purpose.

The first quality of effective presentations is they are designed to achieve a specific purpose.

Right at the start of the presentation, its purpose must be made clear to the audience.

If a presentation lacks "clarity of purpose" the speaker won't know what material to include and the audience won't be motivated to listen.

It is essential the presenter informs the audience of the purpose of the presentation and why it is important.

2. Logical structure.

All effective presentations follow a logical progression.

The presenter must have a detailed written plan, which outlines the content and is a logical progression. It takes the listeners on a mental journey from where they are, to where the presenter wants them to be at the end.

Without a detailed written plan of the ideas and their logical progression, the presenter has zero chance of feeling confident, because they don't know how they are going to succeed.

With a good, logical plan, the presenter is almost bound to succeed, irrespective of how nervous they feel.

3. Pacing must be perfect.

The presenter must deliver the material to the audience at a walking pace. The temptation for nervous presenters is to rush through the presentation, to get it over with.

This is a mistake. Even if you feel nervous, Slow down to a moderate delivery pace.

4. Correct voice tones.

In addition to talking slowly, vary your voice tones. Don't be monotone, be musical. Nervous people often speak quietly, so it is important that you speak louder, so people will THINK you are confident, even if you're not.

5. Body language to make you appear confident.

All expert presenters use particular body language tricks. They don't hide behind a podium. They step out and put themselves in full view.

Audience perceptions will be based on what you do, rather than how you feel. So, even if you're nervous, act as if you're not. Stand up straight. Don't lean on anything, or cower.

Hold your hands and arms in front of you, in a relaxed pose. Study the arm gestures of TV weather presenters and copy their style. They have had weeks of training on body language and you can get it for free.

Straight back, head up, open hand gestures.

6. Ignore your nerves.

Nervous presenters worry about the fact they are nervous, which makes them even more nervous!

So ignore the fact that you are nervous. Audiences are sympathetic to nervous speakers, PROVIDED that their presentation is: Purposeful, logically structured, delivered at the right pace, and in a variable voice tone.

Nervous speakers must not punish themselves for being nervous, since that will intensify their nervous response, and cause a self-destructive cycle.

To break the cycle, feel nervous and accept it as an inevitable part of making a presentation.

Say to yourself, "I feel nervous, because practically everyone feels nervous when they make a presentation. I accept my nervousness, but I won't worry about it. Instead I will focus on:

  • The purpose of my presentation.
  • The paced delivery of the logical sequence of ideas I have prepared.
  • The tone of my voice which must be loud, varied and interesting.

If I focus on these three things, then the audience won't care that I am a bit nervous, and I will succeed".

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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