Observe, Accept, and Reframe

Recognizing and accepting the fact you're being nervous before an important presentation will help you more than trying to fight those anxious feelings. Resistance creates even more angst.

Once you do this, you can slowly shift perspective and try to reframe the situation in a way that favors you.

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How to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation

hbr.org

Focus on Your Body

Instead of being swept in the spiral of negative thoughts like 'What if I fail? What will they think of me? try to be aware of your physical sensations: how your heart beats, how the air fills your lungs, the heat and sweat you feel.

This will anchor you in the present moment and calm your nerves.

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Tips For Calming Your Nerves
  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, that you're hydrated and that you had a good meal before. 
  • Be careful with your caffeine intake before a big presentation so that your heart rate isn’t already elevated.
  • Strike a power pose. Research shows it can shift your mood and make you feel more confident. 
  • Own the space. If you can, get to the room early and really imagine owning it.

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Prepare a Great Opening
  • Organize your thoughts, determine the flow of the presentation and practice transitions.
  • Prepare and practice the opening of your speech. This will set the tone for the entire presentation. Start with something positive (for example, "I love being here...")
  • If you can engage your audience, make sure you check in with them and their views in order to buy time.

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Manage Your Nerves Along the Way
  • If you make a mistake, keep going.
  • Prepare a list of possible questions, in case you're worried people will ask you something you won't know how to answer.
  • If you're asked something you're not really sure about, use a response that goes along the lines of  “That’s a good question. I don’t have the answer right now, but I’ll get back to you on that.” And maybe then turn the question back to the audience.

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