DEALING WITH NERVOUSNESS

The first few times you make a presentation, you will be nervous. That’s quite a good thing—a bit of adrenalin often helps you to perform well.

However, to make sure that your nervousness does not become a problem, here are some things to consider:

    Smile! Your audience will react warmly to you if you smile and at least look relaxed.
    Treat your audience like friends.
    Confess that you are nervous! Your audience will be very sympathetic—they know how you are feeling.
    Breathe deeply. It will calm you down and help to control the slight shaking that you might get in your hands and your voice.
    Be well-prepared. Practice giving your talk (you can ask one of the Academic Skills Centre lecturers to listen to your presentation)
    Be organised. If you are well organised, your task will be easier. If your overheads are out of order, or your notes are disorganised, you may get flustered.
    Slow down! When people are nervous, they tend to get confused easily. So your mind may start to race, and you may feel panicky. Make use of pauses: force yourself to stop at the end of a sentence, take a breath, and think before you continue.
    Remember: The way you perform is the way your audience will feel. Giving an oral presentation is a performance—you have to be like an actor. If you act the part of someone enjoying themselves and feeling confident, you will not only communicate these positive feelings to the audience, you will feel much better, too.
    Accomplished public speakers feel nervous before and even during a talk. The skill comes in not communicating your nervousness, and in not letting it take over from the presentation. Over time, you will feel less nervous, and well able to control your nervousness.

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