Beating presentation nerves

Next week our humble little agency is hosting an event in Bristol UK our home town and stomping ground. The aim is to help us raise our own profile within the city, but also to help inspire and encourage marketing and communications professionals to move their businesses beyond the traditional slide based presentations and way of thinking.

Our founder Russell will be leading the way and presenting about new innovations in Prezi, PowerPoint and also the adoption of conversational presenting. He’ll be presenting to around 100 people in just a short 2.5 hour session. There will also be live polling and interaction as part of the day.

Even though we design presentations most of us (like most of our customers) shudder at the thought of presenting to even small groups, but Russell seems to be more upbeat than ever before. It had most of us thinking that either he has completely forgotten about the event or he is doing the manly thing and burying his emotions down deep and will surely erupt into a quivering mess the evening before our event!

I caught up with Russell to ask him if he still realised the event was on, and also to find out how he’s coping with the nerves of presenting to a large audience:

 

LUKE: First question. You do realise we have a big event next week that you’re presenting at right?

RUSSELL: Of course I do, I can’t wait. It’s all I’ve been thinking about this week.

LUKE: You don’t seem to be phased by the fact that you’re presenting to nearly 100 people you’ve never met before. Are you nervous at all?

RUSSELL: Scared, nervous, butterflies in the stomach, you name it and I’m feeling it! I’ll probably feel like this right up until the start of my presentations.

LUKE: Wow, that surprises me. You don’t seem to be showing any sign of nerves. How are you managing them?

RUSSELL: Well the way I look at things is really simple. The nerves are there because my bodies fight or flight mode is kicking in and telling me that something is approaching I need to be ready for. It’s just a natural response that’s all.

LUKE: That makes sense but surely feeling nervous isn’t nice?

RUSSELL: Well no it’s not a nice feeling, but if you reframe it in the way I mention it does help.

LUKE: That’s a good tip. Are there any other tips you would give presenters?

RUSSELL: The only real way to deal with presentation nerves is to practice your presentation as soon as you can. Not at the last minute! The sooner you run through the content without the pressure of getting things perfect, you’ll instantly feel much better.

LUKE: Have you been practising for next week?

RUSSELL: Absolutely. I’ve had two full run throughs now and will no doubt have at least two more before the big day.

LUKE: So, you are really just a big scaredy cat like the rest of us?

RUSSELL: Yes, I am. Being asked to present to people is tough, but if you practice and reframe the way you see the fear of public speaking you’ll release a lot of the pressure. I would also try to be human and don’t aim for the most perfect presentation anyone has ever seen. That might sound strange but the best presentations I’ve ever given were when I was relaxed enough to just let things flow.

LUKE: That’s great. Thanks for the catch-up.

RUSSELL: No problem, now can you get back to work on my visuals for next week please!

For help dealing with presentation fears email Russell by clicking here.