How to Combat Presentation Anxiety

Last week, we discussed the difference between fear and anxiety. Our conclusion was that most presenters actually possess more anxiety than fear when it comes to presentations and public speaking. Given that reality, I want to unpack ways in which you can combat anxiety in your next speech.

Here are 3 essential tips:

1. Get the Blood Flowing

If you are a fan of exercise, then go for a run or walk the day of your talk. Studies have proven that the benefits of exercise have a positive effect on the nerves, lasting up to 12 hours. If you know you enjoy the endorphins that come with exercise, make sure you perform your activity within 12 hours of your presentation.

2. Rehearse, Don’t Memorize

Practice will build your confidence and reduce your anxiety. However, please note that there’s a significant difference between being well-rehearsed and coming across as memorized. Rehearsed implies that you are prepared, confident and can speak on the fly if needed. Memorized implies that you are dependent, lack confidence and are controlled by your talk, rather than you controlling it. Remember and run through key phrases and points, but don’t memorize word by word — the pressure of remembering all that will just add more to your anxiety!

3. Show Appreciation

Ultimately, you want to get into a mindset of appreciation. If your audience knows you want to add value to their life, you will immediately feel a sense of ease because it will define your purpose and role in the presentation environment. Simply, if you can demonstrate that you care about your audience, then they will be more likely to care about you. Perceived distance between the speaker and audience creates uncomfortableness.

Anxiety is a very subjective matter. At the end of the day, you know yourself better than anyone else, so choose those activities that will calm you best.

Read More: How to Present and Sell Yourself Online

About the Author

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University.

15 Responses to “How to Combat Presentation Anxiety”

  1. Miriam Gilbert

    The point about caring about the audience is very powerful. Care deeply about your audience and your subject matter – it takes the focus of you. Thinking “yes, my audience needs this information, it is really important for them” can remove the worries in you mind of “oh I wonder what they will think of me”. Plus, it adds passion to your delivery – never a bad thing in a presentation…

  2. Ella Dyer

    Agreed Miriam, whenever we shift the focus from us to others it can be positive and powerful. Looking forward to using all three of these points next time I’m speaking with a group.

  3. Gleni Dina Palomino Ortiz

    I´d like next time you talk about hiperidrosis ; how it is related with fear or anxiety before presentation. does not it have to do with anxiety.does it?.

  4. John Toomey

    There is another reason people feel intensely nervous before presenting and the reason is not a pretty one…but I will lay it out first. It all has to do with what is going on on consciousness. We have all, at times felt critical of another person for one reason or another. But, when we have sat in an audience and sat there in some level of intense criticism for a person presenting, instead of simply appreciating them and admiring them for stepping up in the first place, we create a bit of a black hole in our own consciousness. Then, when it comes our turn to step up and speak, it flashes back on us in the form of intense fear, and it is a fear that we will be judged in the same harsh and unfair way that we have judged someone else..The best way to relieve intense public speaking anxiety is to feel back for what you did to someone else and own it without any justification. Just own it as one of your darker moments. JTx

  5. Guest

    You know yourself better than anybody. Just think like this: “My audience don’t know nothing, but i know, and i’m here to show what i know.”

  6. Lucas Meneses

    You know yourself better than anybody. Just think like this: “My audience don’t know nothing, but i know, and i’m here to show it.”

  7. zvizvy

    It is quite fascinating that this common problem is that worth tackling with physiological solutions. I agree so much on exercises since they do help ( I use this well) but the task of getting involved in the exercising is another level of mindset to engage oneself into. Of which most people would want to do and remain with the nerve rattling.

  8. Kadime Rexhepi

    Everything we do for the first time is difficult ,stressing and causes anxiety but the more we do the same thing ,in this case presentations we become confident. The one very important thing is to have a little sense of humor and often connect it with certain points while presenting so that both sides will feel released – audience and the presenter.Involving audience in presentations is also very effective ,they will sweat together with the presenter and others will be more caring and will listen.

  9. Yomi Mike

    This is the best approach, I think. I’ve being using this and it won’t just stop to work!

  10. orielite

    Prepare and rehearse,confide in yourself and your audience and most vitally keep your presence of mind.Finally what will carry the presentation for you is your sense of humor__not an overdose of it,of course!