Top tips on how to calm nerves before a presentation

Categories: October 10, 2019 Best Practice

Feeling nervous before your big presentation?

You are not alone. In fact, fear of public speaking is very common and can even be experienced by seasoned speakers, teachers, and communicators. While it is true that doing something repeatedly helps alleviate the fear to a large extent, in the case of public speaking it is possible to take steps to overcome the jittery feeling prior to the presentation.

Read on to know more about 12 such tips on how to calm your nerves before taking the stage.

1 – Prepare a quality presentation

A great presentation needs killer content that will capture the attention of your audience. So make sure that you prepare your materials and PowerPoint slides carefully. Knowing that you have useful information to share will automatically boost your confidence and reduce the fear a notch.

2 – Rehearse and rehearse

Needless to say, rehearsing is an essential step in feeling prepared for your presentation. A good way to do this is to deliver the discourse while standing in front of a mirror, like in a shadow practice. This process will not only help you memorize the key parts of the speech but also help you work on your expressions.

Another way to rehearse effectively is to give the presentation in front of a family member or a colleague and ask for feedback if any.

3 – Get plenty of rest

Tempted as you might feel to keep on practicing on your delivery style, it is imperative that you get plenty of rest before the actual presentation. Make sure to get enough sleep the night before. A tired mind can trigger more anxiety during public speaking and you would want to avoid that.

4 – Practice mindful breathing

Deep breathing is a known technique that is used to calm nerves and prevent panic attacks. Practice breathing deeply and mindfully to be in tune with your body. This will instantly diffuse the tension held in your body.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is especially suitable to reduce anxiety. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold in for 7 seconds and then breathe out through your mouth in 8 seconds.

5 – Stretch a bit or exercise

Stress and nervousness is not only a mental feeling but also have physical manifestations like knots in the shoulder area. Stretching for 5 minutes before a presentation is a great way to relieve this tension. Follow a basic stretching routine to relax your muscles. Alternatively, if you have the time and energy for it, squeezing in a quick workout will help you by releasing endorphins in your body. You will feel energetic and enthusiastic as a result.

6 – Be familiar with the venue

It is always advisable to be familiar with the venue of your presentation if possible. A lot of stress about public speaking can come from the fear of the unknown. Knowing the place beforehand is a simple task that you can tick off the list. If it is in your office, then pay a quick visit to the board room. Or if it is in a different place altogether, then take some time out a couple of days before the actual presentation and become familiar with the surroundings.

7 – Arrive early on presentation day

Being on time is not enough when you are the presenter. Schedule your day in such a way that you arrive at the presentation venue with time on hand to spare. That way you acclimatize yourself with the setting and if possible, check the workings of the instruments like the microphone and projector to avoid last-minute hiccups.

8 – Positive visualization

This is an effective strategy where you try to visualize yourself giving a successful presentation. You imagine speaking to an audience that is enamored by your speech and you are enjoying yourself in the process. This technique has a positive impact on your overall psyche and helps calm you down prior to the presentation.

9 – Carry a water bottle

Speaking at length can become a tedious process. Carrying a water bottle will obviously help you quench your thirst and energize you. But it also has an additional benefit. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or need some time to gather your thoughts before continuing with your presentation, take a quick break to swig some water and regain your composure on stage.

10 – Pause and speak slowly

Nervousness tends to make people speak very fast and at pitch higher than normal. Taking deliberate pauses and speaking slowly calms down your nerves and helps your gain your composure. Just be mindful of not making your pauses too long.

11 – Smile

Fake it till you make it. However sceptic you might be, this technique actually works. Try smiling and you will find after a period of time that you are doing it effortlessly and have become more relaxed in the process. Additionally, a smiling face is always pleasant for the audience to look at and feel comfortable with.

12 – Accept the fear

Finally, do not try to undermine your fear. Being afraid of public speaking is a legitimate emotion, one that should not be discounted. Accept it but at the same time also remember that by being on the stage itself you have already displayed a lot of courage. Once you tell this to yourself you will find the strength in yourself to calm down and carry forward with the rest of the presentation.


Public speaking can often seem to be a difficult feat and it is absolutely normal to be jittery before a major event. However, following the above tips can help you control your anxiousness and calm down your nerves to let you rock the stage with your presentation.