While it has been suggested that being nervous is good, I’m going to challenge that thought by disagreeing.
Self-confidence is better than being nervous any day.
Using poker as an example, a pair of aces beats a pair of kings. Self-confidence beats nervousness .
There are at least three issues that need to be addressed in answering this question:
1. Fear of public speaking i.e. nervousness
2. Fear of failure
3. Intimidation by the audience
All three of these issues are interconnected.
Nervousness can be caused by lack of self-confidence, poor public speaking skills, being affected by past public speaking situations that didn’t go well etc. Don’t underestimate the effect that too much caffeine in the system can have in increasing your nervousness.
Becoming less fearful and proficient at public speaking is achievable. It takes time and a concerted effort to move forward but is well within the reach of everyone.
Consider joining a local Toastmasters club if you have one nearby. At a Toastmasters club you will learn to speak in varying situations that require public speaking confidence. A business presentation isn’t really any different than any other presentation other than the fact that their may be repercussions to your career or salary if you don’t do well.
Fear of failure can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you go into the business presentation from a position of weakness i.e. you think the audience is better than you and that perhaps you aren’t that worthy to be there, odds are that is how you are going to present yourself.
While your audience can be intimidating, I think it is important to keep in mind that your audience may be somewhat intimidated by you as well. After all, if they act upon your proposal or conversely they don’t, it may have repercussions for their career as well.
Now back to the nervousness in the short term. There are steps you can take to significantly reduce your nervousness and improve your presentation’s effectiveness.
1. Know your presentation/material inside out.
2. Be prepared for FAQs (frequently asked questions). If the questions aren’t asked, insert them into your presentation.
3. Practice your presentation out loud. Recording yourself on video can be effective in helping you become comfortable with your content. The downside of practicing alone is that you don’t have the advantage that a live audience brings e.g. feedback, attention etc.
4. The Wonder Woman super pose works for some people in advance to going to your presentation. Personally, I would feel stupid doing so. Far better to envision your success.
5. Athletes use envisioning success as part of their daily training. If it works for them it will work for you as a presenter. Prior to your live presentation, any time that you think about your presentation think about it in positive terms. See yourself being successful and achieving your purpose. Think of happy smiling faces hanging on every word you say. Envision yourself wowing them.
6. Upon completion of a business presentation debrief yourself. What worked? What didn’t work? And then factor in what you learned about yourself for a better presentation next time.
For further discussion on public speaking, speech development, communication skills and Toastmasters, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
Blow Your Own Horn!: Personal Branding for Business Professionals
Power Networking For Shy People: How to Network Like a Pro
The Power of Persuasion: Mastering the Art of Influence
The Power of Promotion: Online Marketing For Toastmasters Club Growth
The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies
Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.