Deal with nerves

Nerves are natural when you deliver a presentation in front of a group of people. It can be terrifying looking at all those expectant faces waiting for your fascinating words!

Signs of nervousness:

  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Dry throat
  • Cold sweat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Talking really quickly
  • Unable to look at the audience
  • Going ‘blank’ and forgetting what you want to say
  • Shaky hands (your notes are rustling)
  • Confusion over your notes (what were you going to say?)
  • Mix up with the equipment (why doesn’t this work?!)

Do any of these feel familiar? Unfortunately, nerves don’t really go away – professional stage actors or good lecturers still get butterflies in the stomach and a dry throat when they stand up to talk. It is the way they deal with nervousness and use that nervous adrenaline rush to their advantage which singles them out.

Strategies to help you deal with nerves:

  • Be prepared and rehearsed.
  • Visualisation. For example: imagine that you are delivering your presentation to an audience who is intererested, smiling and reacting positively. Retain this positive image in your mind and recall it just before you deliver your presentation.
  • Press and massage your forehead to energise the front of the brain and speech centre
  • Positive reinforcement.
  • Deep breaths and drink sips of water
  • STAY (or Stop Thinking About Yourself). Remember that the audience is there to receive information and it is your job to deliver this clearly.
Dealing with Nerves (PDF opens in new window)