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Standing in front of a group – whether they’re colleagues or strangers – can make anyone feel slightly nervous. When giving a speech or presentation, however, you want to emit confidence. The audience is waiting to hear what you have to say and you want to make sure that you are engaging and informative. Knowing some strategies for calming your nerves and boosting your confidence can help you to feel more self-assured as you step up to begin.

1. Over Prepare

One of the most effective ways to reduce your speaking anxiety is to over prepare. Know exactly what you want to say, how your visuals fit in, what you are going to do with your hands, and how you will interact with the audience. The more you practice, the more naturally it will come and the less stressed you will feel about forgetting. If you do make a mistake, it will be easier to pick up and carry on with minimal disruption. Being overly prepared also allows you to make adjustments as necessary during your presentation because you know the material inside and out.

2. Think Positively

As you practice and prepare your material, think positively. Push aside any negative thoughts and focus on being successful. Visualize everything going as planned and the audience being engaged. Do something to make yourself laugh and lighten the mood. Stand up with a smile and the confidence that you know exactly what you are talking about. The audience wants to see you succeed and provide a wonderful presentation.

3. Practice Deep Breathing

If your nerves seem to be getting the best of you, stop for moment to do some deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale through your mouth. Feel your lungs expand and your heart rate slow. Oftentimes when we are nervous we tend to take quick, short breaths which reduce the amount of oxygen we are taking in. Consciously taking slower, deeper breaths will increase the amount of oxygen and help calm your nerves.

4. Stretch

Ease the tension in your body by doing some light stretching. Roll your neck and shoulders, elongate your spine, and gently massage tense areas. Feeling relaxed and loose can also help to improve your posture and allow you to move more naturally. Exercising earlier in the day and getting plenty of rest the night before can also help to relieve stress and boost positive energy.

5. Smile

Smiling is a natural way to enhance your mood and feel more positive. It can also help you to connect with the audience and feel more confident. When you smile at others, they often smile back and this can create a more relaxed and friendly environment. Keep in mind that you probably do not appear as nervous as you may feel, so don’t give the audience reason to think otherwise.

Building your self esteem and confidence in presentation making can help to reduce the nervousness you may feel. The more presentations you give, the more practice you gain, which can make them less intimidating. Just remember to prepare more than you think you need to so that way you can give your focus to the audience and deliver a successful speech.

If your nerves are getting the best of you and you are unsure whether your presentation is giving off the right impression, JP Kantor Consulting can help. Our professionals will work with you to build your skills, improve your preparation, and exude confidence when speaking to others. Contact us today to find out more about our wide range of consulting, executive coaching, management training, and professional development services.