Giving a presentation at work can be a daunting task, especially if you are not so keen on public speaking in front of an audience. The thought of standing up in front of a room of discerning (and sometimes a little judgmental) colleagues is enough to send even those who usually ooze confidence into a tailspin with the heart rate going through the roof and, more often than not, the thought of the impending event tends to produce more anxiety and stress than the moment itself. Feeling nervous with a dry mouth is an understatement.
It’s a big, bad world and many people find themselves working in highly competitive industries, where they could be replaced in a millisecond. And taking a few deep breaths is never enough. This is why it’s absolutely essential to get yourself into a state where you are cool, calm, and collected before standing up on that podium to give a presentation. Negative thoughts racing through your mind before giving a talk, a lack of confidence, and sweaty palms just before the big moment, could see everything come crashing down around you as stage fright sets in.
While there are never any guarantees that you will ace it, there are a few things you can do prior to delivering your big presentation that will allow you to calm down and really focus on the task at hand.
This might sound a little ridiculous, seeing as it’s pointing out the obvious, but you would be surprised to hear how many people actually forget to breathe properly prior to, or during a speech. We often assume that breathing is just something we do automatically, but focusing on deep breathing is actually one of the most effective ways to calm your nerves in any situation. Not only does focusing on your breath distract you from your nerves, but it will also prepare your diaphragm for proper delivery of your words—so you don’t end up speaking too quietly with a shaky voice. Controlling the breath is one of the main components of any meditation that people partake in to relax, so it makes perfect sense that in the lead up to a nerve-wracking presentation you ensure that you are taking slow, steady breaths. A proper technique will allow you to harness your breath and deliver your speech with a confident and authoritative tone. This is especially important if your presentation is a sales pitch to clients for a new product. Get your breathing under control, stand tall, and don’t rush through your words.
Practice Makes Perfect
During a speech or presentation, many people rely on flashcards to help them navigate the topic they are speaking about and others simply freestyle their way through their presentation, as they find glancing at notes too distracting. Regardless of your chosen approach to public speaking, practice is absolutely essential. Practicing your presentation with a friend, or even in the mirror is going to be an invaluable tool with regards to calming your nerves. After all, how can you possibly feel confident getting up to speak in front of a crowd if you haven’t memorized at least part of what you are meant to be talking about? Another advantage of practicing in front of friends or colleagues is that you can ask for constructive criticism, which will allow you to tweak the parts of your presentation that aren’t coming across as well as they could be. One of the major contributing factors to last-minute panic before delivering your speech is the underlying fear that you are going to forget to say something important, or that you will come across as not knowing what you are talking about—and the chances of that happening will be significantly reduced if you learn to control your breath and you practice prior to picking up the mic.
I always find that a combination of techniques works best when it comes to anxiety or stress. There are physical steps you can take to calm your physical being down (such as the two points mentioned above) and there are also supplements you can take to calm yourself down mentally and emotionally. CBD oil will offer you all of the calming benefits of an anti-anxiety medication, without the nasty side effects. It is a natural supplement that should be taken a few hours before your presentation in order to calm your anxiety right down in time for your speech. For those are you who haven’t already heard about all of the healing benefits of CBD oil, let me just reiterate that it won’t make you feel high, you won’t look stoned and most importantly, there are zero unpleasant side effects. CBD oil is very different to smoking marijuana or consuming a delicious brownie—all of the psychoactive properties of THC (one of the two main components in the cannabis plant) are balanced out and eliminated by the high quantities of CBD. Basically, you get all of the goodness without feeling stoned. Thousands of the people in the United States will now keep a bottle of CBD oil on their desks that they can reach for when they feel their stress levels rising and for those of you who are worried about an upcoming presentation—just a few drops of the oil under your tongue will set you up for success.
I was once attending a lecture on the benefits of medical marijuana and I noticed that the key speaker was downing a can of energy drink before going on stage. His performance went completely against what he was preaching; the idea of the speech was to deliver all of the healing benefits of cannabis-based products for medicinal use, yet he looked (and sounded) like he had been up all night at an illegal rave. It is for this reason that you should avoid caffeine directly before giving a presentation if you are already nervous. While a strong cup of coffee in the morning might be a good way to wake yourself up and get in the zone, you don’t want to be fuelling your nervous energy just before going on stage. If you want to come across as a calm, confident speaker then be sure to avoid caffeine directly before a presentation at all costs!
Finally, always remember that, while there might be a few members in your audience who intimidate you, the majority of people will be more interested in what you are actually saying than your general demeanor. As long as you speak loudly and clearly, no one is going to focus on the fact that you might sound a little nervous apart from yourself! It is very easy to become your own worst enemy prior to a public speaking event, but if you implement all of the calming methods above, you will be able to do the absolute best job that you are capable of and in the end—that’s what really matters.