Presentations can be a big part of some degrees, and if you’re shy, introverted or have social anxiety it can cause a lot of stress. Here are the things I’ve found help me get through presentations.
The easiest way to stay calm and in control is to be as prepared as possible. Give yourself plenty of time to research and plan your presentation. Practise it as much as you can, like learning lines. If you know what you have to say in order, you won’t get as stressed about telling people about it. Treat it like you’re telling your friends, and maybe try practising the presentation on willing family or flatmates to give you a chance to talk through it out loud.
Have some flashcards
Flashcards are great to keep your hands busy, and as something to look at so you can avoid the scary looks of your classmates. Try not to write everything on them as you’ll look less prepared, but having bullet points to look down at can be reassuring when you feel panicked. Colour coding things keeps the presentation clear and organised in your mind so if you do get flustered you can get back on track by looking for the next colour.
Take deep breaths
Take a 1-2 second breath at the end of a sentence, and a bigger breath at the end of a paragraph or section. Pace yourself so you don’t trip over your words. Take some really deep breaths before you start, maybe when you’re waiting to go into your seminar, or as you set up a PowerPoint. Try inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 7, and exhaling for 8. This type of breathing can help calm the body’s flight or fight instinct and keep you in control.
Try to reframe your anxious energy into enthusiasm. Tell yourself that you aren’t scared, but excited. You’re prepared and knowledgeable, and you’re going to ace this presentation. Positive reinforcement can be a really powerful tool in coping with anxiety and nerves.
Remember that no one is going to care if you trip over your words or make a mistake. They’re all going to be too busy worrying about their own presentations! Treat yourself to a slice of cake and a coffee, and good luck. As ever, get in touch if you have any questions or want
some tailored advice.