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Does this sound familiar: despite having no qualms preparing for your presentation, you find your heart racing, your stomach queasy, and like cat got your tongue the moment you’re delivering it?
You’re certainly not alone. Even seasoned speakers get crippled by the all too familiar presentation anxiety from time to time.
Fear of mistakes, mental block and looking foolish are just some reasons behind presentation anxiety.
Yet no matter how natural these symptoms may be for many of us, there are equally natural ways you can overcome or at least, alleviate presentation anxiety:
First, practice, practice, practice. Practicing is not just for mastery or perfection (as the common clichÃ© goes) but more importantly, practicing can boost self-confidence and conquer stage fright. Practice before a group of friends, record yourself, rehearse in the presentation venue–these all give you a sense of familiarity to ease anxiety come presentation day.
Second, promote good posture. So you feel all jittery. And it naturally shows in your body. But just as your emotions can be reflected physically, so can your physical self positively influence your inner state. Even if you’re really terrified inside, you can calm your nerves by standing straight and breathing properly. This delivers more blood and oxygen to your brain for an alert mind and to keep you from being too conscious. In effect, your body is commanding your mind to be in a less anxious state. Plus, your audience will less likely notice your anxiety.
Lastly, prepare your audience. Not only do you have to prepare yourself, prepare your audience to help you cope with anxiety as well. Engage them such as opening with a joke or asking questions. By connecting with your audience, they are able to respond more enthusiastically and be less judgmental of you, easing your nervousness.
Remember, it’s YOU rather than your anxieties that have to shine when presenting. Giving these 3 P’s a try may not cure performance anxiety instantly. But when you’re passionate about your presentation, it certainly does get better and easier as you go along.
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