Nerves: If you’re not slightly nervous you won’t give a good presentation. For the chronically terrified however (and there are many people like that) here are a couple of proven ways of cutting down on that sick feeling. These are some I have heard, used, and passed on over the years.
Rehearse! Top of the list comes total familiarity with what you’re going to say. Especially if it’s a new presentation, go through it, in real time, word for word. Do it in front of your family. Present it to your colleagues. Go through it yourself, at least once a day for the 3 or 4 days prior to the event. If you get to the venue early, (which you should) stand at the lectern or wherever you’ll be speaking from – and rehearse! When you come to do it for real, you’ll already have done it so many times, it’ll be familiar territory.
Breathing: In those last few minutes before you’re called, make a deliberate effort to control your breathing. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly. Breathe in and count as you do so, hold it for 2 seconds and breathe out, counting again. This really works! Firstly it has a physical effect, slowing the heart rate. Secondly, concentrating on breathing and counting does not allow those nervous thoughts to totally “take over” your mind. Try it.
Taking Questions: There’s an acronym I’ll share with you and it’s a really useful reminder of the proper way to deal with questions. TRACT. Thank the questioner. Repeat the question (most of your audience probably couldn’t or didn’t hear it). Answer the question. Confirm the answer is acceptable. Thank the questioner again. Don’t know the answer? Say so! Be honest. If you try and make something up, some of your audience will know! Say you don’t know, but you’ll find out and let the questioner and/or the audience know later in the day/tomorrow by email, etc. (Remember to do so too.)
Finally: Remember most people do not like presenting. Everyone in your audience will be on your side, will want to see you succeed and do well. They will give you every encouragement and the benefit of every doubt. 99% of them would rather be listening than speaking. You have many friends out there – all cheering you on.
After Your Presentation
At the end of your presentation, disconnect from the projector or large screen before returning to power point presentation templates. It is more “elegant” to leave your audience with the mental image of your final slide rather than the cluttered PowerPoint working screen or your PC desktop.