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Presentation skills – What do I do when the nerves kick in?

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Nervousness Many people find making presentations nerve racking, stressful and daunting. So how do you make a confident, impactful presentation when your heart is pounding, you can’t think straight and there’s sweat dripping down the backs of your legs?! Take breath, help is at hand, read on….

Here are our top 10 tips for staying calm

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare – Preparation always pays dividends and goes along way to eliminating some of the things that make us nervous.
  • Practise your presentation and get familiar with the flow.
  • Have a plan B for if things go wrong eg. What if the technology lets you down what will you do?
  • Plan for difficult questions.
  1. Get there early and check that the technology works – If you get there early, you can get set up, check your equipment and take some deep breaths so you can look and feel calm and composed when the audience arrive. You also have time to get IT support if things aren’t working rather than going into a mad panic because you have to start in 5 minutes.
  2. Visualise success – we tend to visualise without really being aware of it and if nerves are an issue, we are probably visualising worst case: the audience are bored or combative, your mind goes blank etc. Instead, visualise successful outcomes. Your brain doesn’t differentiate between what is real and what is vividly imagined so if you can visualise yourself being articulate, confident and successful, this is what you’re priming your brain for.Will Power
  3. Stop the negative dialogue – along with visualising catastrophe, we often have a negative dialogue which fuels our nerves eg “I hate presenting” “This is going to be a nightmare” Instead, catch yourself and be conscious of saying positive things to yourself like “I can do this” “everyone wants me to succeed”
  4. Superhero pose – Maybe a bit of a weird one but research shows that if you can hold a superhero pose like Wonder Woman or Batman for 2 minutes accompanied with positive thought patterns, you will feel more powerful and in control and thus, less nervous – try it and see how it works!
  5. Wear your best suit – There’s nothing worse than being self conscious to up the ante because your skirt keeps riding up or your pants are all creased. It is important to look credible, smart and professional. If you feel good about the way you look, you will feel more confident in general.
  6. Make the audience more human – meet and greet them to break down barriers. Remember audience members want you to succeed so connect with them and see that they’re not that scary!
  7. Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, tensing and releasing muscle exercises, mindfulness apps. You can also try ‘Rescue remedy’ or lavender, cold water on your wrists or camomile tea. Find something that works for you.
  8. Have a glass of water on the table next to your notes. Always a good back up so that if the nerves kick in, you can have a drink, check your notes, take a breath, smile and carry on.
  9. Feel the fear and do it anyway! The more you do something, the less daunting it becomes so volunteer for as many presenting opportunities as you can. You never know, you may learn to love it!


If nerves are an issue for you, try some of these solutions and see which ones work for you.

For more information or to book a Presentation skills training course contact

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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