Now that’s Scary

Conquer your fear of the speaker’s podium

By Michelle Eppley

For most of us, nothing causes greater anxiety than having to stand in front of people and give a presentation—but with practice, anyone can improve presentation skills. Here are some tips:

Breathe. A simple way to relax before a presentation is to focus on breathing. Don’t interfere with it, just be aware of it. Several minutes of this focus can create a deep state of relaxation. Stretching and shaking out your arms and legs will also help create a relaxed and energized feeling.

Move. Effective, coordinated gestures are an important way to show your personal style during a presentation, and help emphasize important points. Keep your posture aligned and relaxed.

Get the message. Concentrate on the message, not the medium, to ease jitters. And remember, most of the time a speaker’s nervousness does not show at all.

Be yourself. Connection is what audiences ultimately want—information presented in a way that is natural for you to give and comfortable for the audience to receive. Eye contact and passion about the topic will carry the message to the listeners’ hearts and minds.

Printed in Successful Meetings, March, 2003.