Feeling a sense of anxiety or worry before a work presentation is normal and something nearly every professional experiences at least once in their lifetime, if not to some degree each time they present. Despite it being par for the course, it can be extremely uncomfortable and make it more difficult for you to successfully present your material.

You can reduce anxiety before a big presentation by being mindful of your feelings and taking steps to ensure you’re well-practiced and ready to speak when it’s time. Here are several ways you can combat pre-presentation worry and how to get connected with additional business training resources.

Rehearse Your Presentation

It’s important to never go into a presentation without plenty of practice. Don’t just write your presentation and read it over a few times – rehearse it. Practice giving the presentation to yourself using a mirror or ask friends to listen in and offer you critique. Use this opportunity to spot things you can improve.

Be Ready with Plenty of Time to Spare

Don’t arrive to your presentation late or with just a couple minutes before you’re due to go on. Arrive early, even to a remote presentation, and give yourself some time to become acclimated to the software and/or your surroundings.

If you are giving a remote presentation, explore the software or platform a day or two before. Practice going through your slides so you can hopefully eliminate or reduce technical difficulties during the live session.

Visualize a Positive Outcome

Visualization is a powerful way to set yourself up for success. Before your presentation, while you’re practicing it, think of the ideal outcome you would like to see. Imagine what it will look and feel like and allow it to play out in detail in your head.

The earlier you start visualizing your own success, the more “concrete” or “real” it will feel when you go to give your actual presentation. You can draw on your vivid visualizations to ideally shape the live presentation to the way you imagined it playing out earlier.  

Remember to Breathe

When you’re giving your presentation, it can be difficult to remember to take breaths in between sentences. Practicing some breathing exercises beforehand and using them during your presentation can help keep you from feeling faint or lightheaded during your presentation and can give you time to collect your thoughts for the next sentence.

The University of Michigan describes belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and roll breathing.

4-7-8 breathing is the easiest of the three; simply breathe in deeply through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat until you begin to feel calmer. 

Each of these works differently to stimulate your vagus nerve, engage your parasympathetic nervous system, and reduce your overall level of anxiety. 

Don’t Rush Through the Presentation

If you’re anxious to get the presentation over with, you may be unconsciously rushing through your material. This makes it harder for people attending to keep up and you may end up losing engagement and listeners. If you’re giving a webinar, you may notice that people begin to drop off if you’re going too fast for them.

Instead, allow a few seconds from time to time to look at your notes, clear your throat, gather your thoughts, take a drink of water, or just pause for a moment. This time isn’t awkward for anyone attending the presentation; it just feels awkward for you since all eyes are directed your way.

Try to overcome the desire to fill silent spaces with something and instead, give yourself the chance to collect your thoughts and materials before proceeding a few times throughout the presentation.