21 MINDFUL tools for managing presentation nerves

man holding paper in front of microphone mopping brow

Do you struggle with presentation nerves?

Public speaking nerves is a significant challenge for many professionals; it’s a common phobia.

In fact, the fear of public speaking is an anxiety disorder we help people with every day.

If you’d like to overcome your fear when you speak in front of a group, prepare for a speech or presentation, it’s worth knowing how to manage the fight or flight response which can affect any public speaker.

“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”Mark Twain

There are many reasons people feel anxious at the thought of presenting. When it comes to nervous public speaking, the list is a long one.

Here are a few of the common reasons many of our clients share for their presentation nerves:

– The fear of failure

– Worry about being judged

– Perfectionism

– Feeling anxious in front of large groups

Impostor syndrome

– Past failures

It continues

– No experience or training

– Don’t know how to prepare

– Poor breathing habits

– A higher status audience

– An emotionally charged or hostile audience

– Fear of not knowing the answer to every question

– Worry about forgetting their content

Whatever the reason is for your presentation nerves these tools will help

  The Issue  |  The Tool  |  What to do

1. Negative self-talk

Name      it Notice when you are being self-critical. Give your inner critic a nickname. Acknowledge it and tell it you don’t agree. Challenge your inner critcic with another perspective. Speak to it politely but assertively, just as you would a friend who wasn’t being very helpful.


2. Feeling really anxious

Breathe   Take long, slow deep breaths through your nose filling your abdomen. Inhale to a count of 5 , hold for a count of 2 and then exhale to a count of 8. Repeat the cycle five times or until you feel calmer.


 3. The first 2 minutes are the hardest

Remember your opening Memorise your opening and practice delivering it slowly.

 “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Having trouble preparing



Attention –  Craft a strong opening

Relevant –   Only include what’s relevant to your audience

Message –    Have a crystal clear message and make sure it’s relevant

Examples –  Give examples of what you mean. Paint pictures in their minds

Do –              Tell them exactly what you want them to do at the end of your presentation


5. Too much nervous energy

Squeeze Gradually work your way up your body from your toes, up to your head. Squeezing and then relaxing each part of your body. Breathe in as you tense a body part and out as you relax it.


6. Nervous due to inexperience

Personal development Watch TED.com, read books, attend conferences & seminars. Watch speakers on YouTube. Practice with a friend or someone you trust at work.

“Words have incredible power. they can make people’s hearts soar, or they can make people’s hearts sore.” – Dr. Mardy Grothe

7. Worried about how you look and sound

Video / Audio Record yourself delivering your presentation and watch or listen to it. Focus on your vocal variety and non verbal gestures. Identify what works well for you and what you could improve.


8. Need more practice

Find a class Attend a public speaking course, Toastmasters or improvisation classes. Look for opportunities to present at work.


9. Your imagination working against you

Visualise Several days before you present, find somewhere to relax and visualise everything going well. Your audience are smiling and happy, you look and sound great.

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain

10. Calm on the outside but a wreck on the inside

Massage Press and massage your forehead. If you can, try to book a full body massage the day before.


11. Nervous just before you speak

Take a moment Just before you speak, smile, pause and make eye contact. Listen to soothing or relaxing music. Meditate, do some breathing exercises or gentle stretches.


12. Feeling fidgety

Use it Don’t be afraid to expend that nervous energy by moving around a little before you speak. Find somewhere private to do a few star jumps or shadow boxing.


13. Dry mouth

Suck a sweet A few minutes before you speak, suck a boiled sweet or eat an apple. Have a glass of water close by and take occasional sips.


14. Can’t focus

Smile Smiling sends relaxing and positive chemicals through your body and helps to clear the mind. Find a meditation practice that connects with you. Take a walk in fresh air – nature always helps.

“90% Of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” – Somers white

15. Can’t settle beforehand

Arrive early Get to the venue really early and spend as long as you can just ‘being in the room’. Adjust to the environment and just relax in it. Take a few deep breaths and just notice what it feels like to be in the room.


16. Feel too tense

Exercise Boost your bodies feel good chemicals by exercising the day before you present and also earlier in the day prior to presenting. Try a little yoga in the morning,play your favourite music or sing out loud.


17. Not feeling very confident

Power Pose Before you stand to speak strike your best ‘Super Man’ or ‘Wonder Woman’ stance and hold your head high.


18. Lacking self belief


1) They believe you’re the expert, so don’t tell them otherwise.

2) They want you to succeed.

3) They won’t know when you make a mistake.

“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. the one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –
Dale Carnegie

19. Not sure what to expect

Homework Do your research beforehand and get to know your audience. Who are they, how much do they know, what do they need from you? Open up a dialogue with them before you meet.


20. Worried about slip-ups

Practice Don’t memorise your speech but do practice as much as you can. Do so in front of family, friends and colleagues and ask for feedback.


21. Confidence still an issue

Be an 8 Imagine what confidence looks and feels like on a scale of 1 to 10. Carry an 8 of clubs with you from a packet of playing cards. Practice being an 8 as a level of  confidence. What does that look, sound and feel like in your world.
Hold that image in your mind.

If you need help managing your presentation nerves:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of: Shutterstock.com

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