For so many of us, speaking in front of an audience can be an anxiety-inducing experience. First come the physical symptoms: excessive perspiration, blurred vision, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, and trembling hands and knees. Then, the mental effects--including confusion and mental blocking--make their appearance, making it difficult to focus and articulate our thoughts.
Fortunately, there are a number of effective techniques to deal with the common symptoms of anxiety and nervousness caused by giving an oral presentation.1. Be Prepared
If you're well-prepared and well-rehearsed, you can deliver your speech or presentation with confidence. If you're confident, you're less likely to be overly nervous. Remember, it's natural to feel slightly nervous or excited before appearing before an audience, and this energy can be channeled into giving a great speech2. Make Sure You're As Comfortable As Possible
Try to get a good night's sleep and avoid caffeine and other stimulants so you're relaxed when you give your speech. You should also wear comfortable clothing. Some presenters take a quick walk before their speech to calm down. The idea is to be as comfortable as possible.3. Use Visualization Techniques
Some people find it helpful to visualize a successful speech. Imagining that you're comfortable, confident, and connecting with the audience in advance can make you approach your speech without undue anxiety.4. Control Your Breathing
Taking deep breaths before you start your speech can help to make you calmer. Some presenters will silently repeat a simple, comforting phrase (such as “Relax, this will be fine” or “I’m ready”) in the moments before they begin their speech.5. Learn to Manage Other Physical Symptoms
If your throat or mouth is dry, try taking sips of room-temperature water. If your hands are shaking, keep them on the lectern or avoid making gestures. If your legs are trembling, try leaning them against the lectern. If your voice is shaking or cracking, try slowing down and breathing.6. View Your Audience As Your Friend
Remember that your audience wants you to give an engaging and interesting speech--they're naturally sympathetic! Make eye contact with someone with a friendly face. Many presenters find themselves relaxing when they focus on talking to individuals in the audience.
Having some anxiety or nervousness before a speech or presentation is natural. By employing tried-and-true techniques for handling speech anxiety, you can deal with it in a positive manner. Then, in the future, you'll know that you're ready for whatever may happen.