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Dealing with nerves

Even the best speakers get nervous before a presentation – it’s natural. The key is how to channel that nervous energy, tension and adrenaline in a positive and productive way.

Nerves can get the better of us before and/or during a presentation. Here’s how you can address anxieties to ensure your performance is not affected (Theobold 2013: 103):

  • Prepare: make sure you have planned and fully prepared your talk in advance

  • Practise: rehearsing your talk is vital

  • Arrive early: familiarise yourself with the venue, check technology and any notes/cue cards that you are using

  • Stay hydrated: drink some water and avoid caffeine

  • Relax: use strategies such as breathing exercises, closing your eyes and counting to ten, and having a positive mental attitude by telling yourself that it will be a successful talk

  • Focus: centre your thoughts for a few seconds by having a quiet moment

  • Smile: aim to start your talk in a confident and positive way

Your task

Listen to the following story of a presentation that went horribly wrong.

What did the speaker do wrong and how could they have prepared better?



Theobald, T. (2016) Develop Your Presentation Skills. London: KoganPage

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This article is from the free online course:

What Makes an Effective Presentation?

Coventry University