When you are in charge of making a presentation it’s easy to feel nervous. It’s natural to feel pressure when you plan on leading a conference call or playing an important role in a video conferencing presentation, and experiencing some level of nervousness happens to everyone.
But when that nervousness becomes too strong and may potentially impact your presentation, you need to take steps to solve it quickly. Here are several techniques for relaxing before a big presentation and acing your conference calls.
In Advance of the Presentation
• Practice
The most beneficial activity you can do before a presentation is to practice. The more you practice, the more the presentation will become second nature – allowing you to easily recite every detail and perform every action no matter how nervous you feel. Practicing your presentation in its entirety will help you make sure you’re ready by the time the actual presentation comes around.
• Use Anti-Anxiety Strategies
There are several exercises that can help you relieve some of your nervous tension. Learn breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to help you calm yourself down both physical and mentally. You can also perform these exercises before (and possibly during) your presentation to keep yourself calm throughout. Here are some examples of strategies you can implement.
Deep Breathing – There are several different deep breathing strategies. One of the best involves sitting calmly in a chair with your back straight. Keep your arms rested on either your lap or the sides of the chair. For these exercises, try to breathe in through your stomach first and your chest last. Breathe in through your nose slowly for 5 seconds. Hold for another three seconds. Then exhale out your mouth for 7 seconds. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation – It is believed that reducing physical tension relieves mental tension. Progressive muscle relaxation involves squeezing individual muscles tightly for about 10 seconds before releasing. Start at the feet, using one muscle at a time, and work your way up to the face. By the end, your muscles should feel far more relaxed.
Visualization – Visualization is often misunderstood, but surprisingly effective. It involves transporting yourself using your imagination to a place that is calming. In order for the effect to work, you need to imagine the relaxing place with all five senses, including smells, sight, and sounds. Keep your eyes gently closed and imagine yourself in that place until you rare completely relaxed.
• Consider Positive Activities/Affirmations
Good moods yield a relaxed mind. Find a strategy to improve your mood in order to help relieve some of the stress and pressure. Some people do this with affirmations, while others need something more concrete – like fun activities or comedy shows/books. Find any activity that helps you become positive and upbeat.
• Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Lack of sleep is a notorious cause of anxiety and nervousness. Not only does fatigue mimic and exacerbate some of the physical effects anxiety, they can also make it harder to focus, increasing your nervousness before and during the presentation. Sleep is a vital preparation strategy.
Right Before the Presentation
• Eat, Drink, Etc.
Anxiety increases on an empty stomach. Make sure you’ve had a good meal and adequate hydration. Go to the bathroom if necessary so that you can ensure that you’re prepared before the presentation begins. Nervousness can often prevent hunger, but not eating can increase nervousness. Get a good meal and drink enough water to make sure you’re prepared.
• Get Everything Ready
It’s not uncommon for anxiety to increase because of concerns over not being ready. That is why before your conference you should make sure everything is prepared. If you need any paperwork, notes, videos or even water, make sure they’re all there long before the presentation starts.
• Write Down Your Thoughts/Distractions
Before you conference in to your presentation, make sure your mind is free of other potential distractions. Research has shown that nervousness can increase when your mind wants to make sure you remember things. If you write down everything going on in your mind on a piece of paper, you’ll help calm your mind so that you can focus on the presentation.
During the Presentation
• Don’t Apologize
Many people apologize for the presentation before it begins, saying a phrase such as “I’m sorry if this presentation is not as good as it could be, I’m a little nervous.” While apologizing temporarily puts the mind at ease, it also causes you to think too much about the potential of failing. In addition, if you apologize you make it more likely for your audience to focus on your mistakes, because they start expecting them.
• Move On
If you do make a mistake, don’t dwell on it. Be ready to move on to the next part of the presentation. It’s often the need to fix a mistake that leads to fumbling and additional anxiety. Everyone – even those without presentation phobias – make mistakes once in a while. Your audience is not going to care provided you are able to continue the conference admirably.
• Smile
Your mood and your voice change when you smile. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a video conference or completing your presentation on the phone. When you smile, your body feels calmer, and you’ll be able to improve your ability to present the materials.
After the Presentation
Once the presentation is over and the conference call has ended, recap all of the things you did well during the presentation. It’s important that you stay positive, and focus only on the victories of the presentation. Write down everything you accomplished and what parts of the presentation were successful. Only then will you have more confidence and reduce your social anxiety going into your next presentation.
You Can Have a Great Presentation
Some presentation anxiety is normal. If your anxiety starts to become more overwhelming, it is important that you take action. Prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the presentation through extensive practice, a healthy lifestyle, and a mindset that is ready to handle the presentation. Doing so will help you have a great presentation, and once you’ve had a great presentation, you’ll be more ready for the next one.

Author's Bio: 

Ryan Rivera has been a public speaker and presenter for years. He has also suffered from anxiety and found ways to help overcome his issues. To learn more about nervousness and other anxiety conditions, visit www.calmclinic.com.