How to Calm Down Before a Presentation Want to calm down before a presentation? Even if you don’t regularly experience the fear of public speaking, just before you start a speech, it is easy to feel anxious. This initial nervous energy can cause a speaker to have a shaky voice, dry mouth, or sweaty palms just before a presentation. The good news is that this experience is very common. Most of the time, if you start your presentation well, the level of nervousness will drop very quickly.

However, sometimes when people feel that stage fright, they panic. When you panic in front of an audience, you will most likely experience even more nervous feelings.

So, what do you do to calm down before the presentation and calm those nerves? Below are 5 Simple Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before and During a Speech.

  1. Create a Simple Presentation with Just a Few Key Bullet Points and Practice It with a Person.
  2. Find a Quiet Place to Be Alone and Perform a Short Series of Exercises.
  3. Interact and Network with Your Audience to Calm Your Nerves Before a Presentation.
  4. Just Before Your Start Your Presentation, Take a Steady and Deep Breath.
  5. Start Your Presentation with a Personal Story to Calm Your Nerves Almost Instantly.

Let’s cover each in a little more detail.

Create a Simple Presentation with Just a Few Key Bullet Points and Practice It with a Person.

Create a Simple Presentation with Just a Few Key Bullet Points and Practice It with a Person Surprisingly, a lot of speech anxiety comes from trying to deliver a bad speech. Here is the best tip I can give you about public speaking anxiety. If you try to deliver a terrible speech, you will be extremely nervous doing so. So, the first step to calm down before a presentation is to design a great presentation.

Most of you are too young to remember this, but a couple of decades ago, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman starred in a movie called Hook. Williams won four Academy Awards, and Hoffman won eight in his career. They were both fantastic actors. Steven Spielberg (18 Academy Awards) directed the movie. This all-star cast told the story of Peter Pan after he grew up. It should have been a blockbuster. But the movie sucked. It was terrible. Hook flopped because it took too long to get to the point. The word often used to describe the movie is “bloated.”

A lot of presentations are designed the same way. They are too long with too many bullet points. So a great way to reduce nervousness before a big presentation is to spend time organizing a good speech. Think about what your audience wants or needs to know about your topic. Ask yourself, “If the audience only understood one thing that I present, what is the most important point that they would need to remember?” Do this exercise a couple of more times. Then design your presentation around just those key points.

Then, when you have a good speech, practice it once or twice with a family member. Practicing out loud will another person lets you make corrections and improve the speech.

For additional help designing a good speech, see How to Design a Speech Quickly.

Find a Quiet Place to Be Alone and Perform a Short Series of Exercises.

Find a Quiet Place to Be Alone and Perform a Short Series of Exercises Back in High School, I competed in a power-lifting competition. To win a medal, I just had to lift either the heaviest, second heaviest, or third heaviest weight. Each competitor lifted three times and the heaviest weight was used as his score. Since you have a limited number of chances, you want to make your first attempt something fairly easy for you. If you set the weight too high and fail, you may have to lower the weight on your second attempt which makes it harder to medal.

I laid down on the bench, easily lifted the weight, and held it above my chest for a very long time. Something was wrong. My coach should have given me the order to rerack the weight. Eventually, he did. But when I looked over my shoulder, the three judges had all given me red lights. The lift didn’t count. I realized immediately what I had done (really not done.) For a lift to score, I had to pause at the bottom of the lift for a split second before pushing up. I was so nervous that I just lifted the weight very quickly with no pause.

My nervousness increased dramatically before the second lift. My coach had increased the weight. But without the score for the first lift, if I missed this one, I had no chance to win a medal. So my coach pulled me aside and told me to go to a corner of the gym and do 10 burpees. You know, those crazy exercises where you squat down and touch the floor then jump as high as you can. I was confused by I did it. A few minutes later, came back to the bench and easily lifted the new weight and scored three green lights from the judges.

Really? Are Burpees an Effective Way to Reduce Performance Anxiety?

That advice from my coach was brilliant. When people get nervous, their heart rate increases. Many of the physical symptoms of nervousness come from a racing heart. A simple exercise like jumping jacks or push-ups can help you release some of that nervous tension. In my case, before I did the burpees, I felt the sweaty palms and the racing heart. During a strenuous exercise, though, it is difficult to think about being nervous. In fact, when I came back to the bench, I had positive energy.

Years later, just before I taught my first class by myself, I felt the sweaty palms and the racing heart again. Since I had experienced this before, I knew an effective way to deal with it. I went to the bathroom and locked the door. Then, I did the same burpee routine. As I left the bathroom, I straightened my tie and returned to the classroom. Sure I was still nervous, but that short strenuous exercise helped me focus. It may work for you as well.

Interact and Network with Your Audience to Calm Your Nerves Before a Presentation.

Interact and Network with Your Audience to Calm Your Nerves Before a Presentation Remember that it is easier to talk to your best friend than it is to present to a stoic audience. So, if you make friends with people in your audience, you will make presenting much easier. Get to the meeting room early. Greet your audience members as they come into the room. Start a conversation. This simple exercise does a couple of things. First, when you stand in front of the group to begin your presentation, you will just be continuing the earlier conversation.

Second, as you ask questions about these new friends, your focus moves away from yourself and onto the audience. Instead of hearing that negative self-talk that is common when you get nervous, you will focus on the audience and what they want. This slight change in focus makes a huge difference. When we get nervous in front of an audience, that self-talk will sound like, “Do I look nervous? Can they hear my shaky voice? Am I making sense? ” If you notice, each of those internal questions focuses on the speaker, not the audience.

However, when you interact with a number of people in your audience just before your presentation, what they tell you will still be on the front of your mind. The more you focus on them, the less you focus on yourself and your anxiety.

Also, when you start, you will see a number of friendly faces looking back at you. Anytime you start to feel nervous, just make eye contact with one of the people who are smiling back at you and nodding their heads as you speak. You will feel your anxiety begin to melt away.

For additional help networking with your audience, see How to Network and Be a Great Conversationalist.

Just Before Your Start Your Presentation, Take a Steady and Deep Breath.

Just Before Your Start Your Presentation, Take a Steady and Deep Breath I mentioned earlier that when you get nervous, your heart rate will increase. Many of the symptoms of nervousness occur because of this physiological change. That a short intense exercise or even just a brisk walk can help you calm down before a presentation is that initially, the heart rate shoots up. Then, as you walk slowly to the meeting room, your heart rate will steadily drop back to a normal level.

Well, you can actually do this at will with deep breathing. Just before you begin to speak, take a couple of slow breaths (deep breaths). As you do this, your racing heart will begin to slow to a normal rate. At the same time, many of those annoying symptoms of nervousness will begin to fade away as well.

Years ago, I volunteered to work in a community theater in my hometown. Before every stage performance, the director got the entire crew, actors, and stage crew) to stand in a circle and hold hands. She had us close our eyes and take a slow and steady deep breath. We’d hold the breath for twenty to thirty seconds. Then, we’d slowly release the breath. The process helped us calm our nerves pretty effectively. Then, the director would say, “Okay! Now got knock ’em dead.”

I’ve used the same technique before giving presentations in my career as well. This is an easy technique that you can use whenever you start to feel any type of social phobia.

Start Your Presentation with a Personal Story to Calm Your Nerves Almost Instantly.

Start Your Presentation with a Personal Story to Calm Your Nerves Almost Instantly A good way to calm down during a speech is to start with an example or personal story. When a nervous speaker starts with a story, the process builds instant rapport with the audience. For instance, when I start my public speaking classes, I typically start by telling the group about my first professional speech. I was terrible and walked out of the room mortified. So by starting with a personal story like that, I let the audience see that if I was a terrible speaker and I now get paid to speak for a living, anyone can do it.

Also, when you tell a story, all you have to do is remember what happened — you just play the memory like a movie in your head. then, just tell the audience what you are seeing in your head. No one in the audience can argue with you. You were there — you were an eyewitness. However, if you try to start your presentation with facts and statistics, your audience will be more likely to want to test your data.

Storytelling is also an easy way to present and shows the audience a high level of presentation skills. Great speakers tell great stories. So if you want to be a great speaker, start your next presentation with a great story.

For additional details, see the post called How to Tell a Great Story.

A Good Public Speaking Coach Can Help You Calm Down Before a Presentation.

These simple public speaking tips can help reduce nervousness before and during a speech. However, remember that the key to becoming a confident speaker is practice. So, we suggest that you get a good public speaking coach to help. This will save you time and frustration. Luckily, you have access to some of the best public speaking coaches in the world right here. Just fill out the form below, and one of our professional speaking coaches will consult with you for up to 30 minutes for FREE!


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