Describe what your body is feeling when you have a good amount of stress e.g. clear focus, a pang of excitement, etc.
What anti-anxiety strategies have you employed in the past? Which worked best?
Anything done for the first time, or even the first few times, involves some fear. Overcoming the fear of public speaking requires training and learning in a supportive atmosphere. Self-confidence will grow with each exposure.
You need to feel some good stress before your presentation. You don't want to be too calm or too anxious. You need a bit of adrenaline, produced during the stress response, to pump you up and give you the enthusiastic approach audiences love. So, it's important to be aware of how your body feels when you are experiencing positive stress. Make a list of these bodily sensations so that you can compare if and when your body starts to show signs of negative stress e.g. racing heart, fuzzy head, etc.
Presenters who are well prepared experience LESS stress.
Eliminate as many unknowns as possible: know the audience, the room lay-out, the equipment.
Connect what you are saying to your core values and passions. What differentiates a good from a great presentation is the "difference between what you know and what you believe".
Know how to structure and organize an academic presentation. If you are unfamiliar with organizing a formal presentation, ask your supervisor, colleagues, and read books or website tips. Consider taking a presentation skills workshop delivered by Learning Strategies Development. Register at www.queensu.ca/qlc.
Never throw a presentation together at the last minute. Give yourself lots of time to prepare salient content, clear structure, and visual aids.
Rehearse between 3-5 times: less than 3 you might stumble over your words and more than 5 might cause you to memorize the presentation.
Controlled and deep breathing: breathing deeply and slowly from the diaphragm will slow the heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain
Take a Deep Breath and Relax (21 KB)
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: tensing and relaxing muscle groups can gently loosen tight spots
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (17 KB)
Warm your hands and feet
Avoid stimulants (caffeine, cigarettes)
Drink lots of water
Concentrate on the advantages to public speaking. e.g. disseminating your research.
Realize that you have knowledge or experience from which others can benefit. If you are seen as an expert, people want to hear what you have to say.
Build awareness: know what thoughts cause you to feel anxious about a presentation.
Recognizing your stress-inducing self talk (14 KB)
Imagine yourself as a brilliant presenter. Even if you've never felt this way, it's important to see yourself in the most positive light. Olympic athletes who do physical and mental training show great improvement. Like a runner before a race, envisage yourself winning, not losing. Focus on your goals, not the pitfalls along the way. Every time you think of your presentation, run through the visualization to prevent any negative thoughts from filtering into your mind.
Use positive affirmations: Writing things down helps to imprint our thoughts. So consider writing out a list of positive affirmations in the 1st person, present tense. Review and repeat them frequently. e.g. I am a good presenter. My smile engages the audience. I am confident with my topic. I have excellent strategies to help me cope...
Use coping statements: Combined with relaxation from deep breathing, these statement help you cope during a stressful situation.
Although it's better to create your own stress-coping statements and memorize them, the TOOL provides some examples to get you started.
Coping Statements (21 KB)
Recall past successes: When we are very anxious, we often forget about the positive experiences we have had with presentations. Try to recall past presentations in which you received encouraging feedback and maybe even accolades.