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Managing Nerves

In last month’s blog, we looked at how to prevent nerves, so now how can we manage them so we don’t lose control of our conversation or presentation?

  • Use a checklist to ensure you have all the equipment you need to present such as cables, adapters, extension leads etc.  Also, have a step-by-step checklist to set-up your laptop and projector.

I always recommend that you have a packing checklist and use it when packing your laptop bag or / and projector bag to make sure you have all the right cables, adapters, extensions leads etc. in order to present.   I perform on a regular basis and part of my ‘packing routine’ is to go through my ‘packing checklist’ which lists such things as my folder with my Running Order and lyrics (essential if you forget the words), 2 x mics, 2 x mic cables, 2 x speakers, 2 X speaker cables etc. You don’t want to arrive at a venue to discover you are missing a vital cable or connector – this will only lead to you becoming more nervous so create a checklist! Job done!

presenting

  • Breathe deeply – inhale slowly through your nose on the count of 5 – 7 and exhale slowly, through your mouth on the count of 7+. Slowly work up to releasing your breath on the count of 9, 11, 13 up to 20 if you can make it.  This brings down your heart rate which will help calm you down but it also helps develop your diaphragm muscles which are the muscles located under your ribcage. Strong diaphragm muscles ensure great projection and breath control.

On my courses, whether it is a 1 to 1 session or group session, I always spend time on training participants to breathe correctly.  The benefit of this is you can control and manage your heart rate and bring it down to a level that helps you present calmly and with ease.  Also, by breathing correctly, you will increase the amount of air you take into your lungs and you’ll have a greater ability to project your voice when you slowly release this air – so you get double results for one piece of effort!  I spent several years training as a Mezzo Soprano and the major outcome from that disciplined learning was the positive impact of breathing correctly.  Deep breathing will both bring down your heart rate which calms your nerves but also gives you the great ability to project your voice without straining your vocal chords!

  • Think positively, use affirmations – ‘I will be a success’, ‘I will present clearly and with confidence’. This will help you focus on a positive outcome and will help you adjust your state of mind to a positive mind-set both of which will help you achieve the positive outcome you desire.
  • Focus on your audience and what they need to hear.  Think of what your audience wants and needs to hear and then tell them what that is.

focus

  • Slow down the pace of your voice – this will help control your nerves coming through your voice.  You will also have more control of what you say, plus your audience won’t have to work so hard to keep up with what you are saying.

When I work with clients who pace their voice too quickly (unusually I haven’t come across anyone who paces their voice too slowly), I get them to imagine a ‘pace dial’ with a speed of 1 to 10 – 1 being slow and 10 being very (too) fast!  Then I rate them on where they are on the dial – so I’d say they are 8 on the dial and then I ask them to focus turning back the dial to 5!  It can take a few times to slow their pace down but usually after 3 – 4 times presenting for about 2 mins at a time, their pace slows down where it’s easier for the audience to understand and process what they are saying!

  • Keep a printed page in front of you (in large typeface so you can glance and present) with key words, comments and prompts of examples or anecdotes.  Reference the slide number against each piece of information and refer to this page if you get lost or confused.

glass of lemon water

  • Sip water – it sounds obvious but it helps clear your vocal chords plus draws your attention away from being nervous.

The Results
I’ve being working with people to help them decrease their nerves and anxiety when presenting for over 13 years now and thankfully they have achieved fantastic results just by following the above tips and techniques.

In next month’s blog, we’ll look at how to build confidence when presenting or speaking in public.

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