You may have heard that a good strategy for reducing nervousness during public speaking is to imagine your audience naked. This tactic doesn’t really work. For some tips that really will help quell the butterflies in your stomach, see below:
Prepare, prepare, prepare!
Most of the time, we feel nervous because we are afraid of being evaluated poorly by our audiences. The more preparation you do ahead of time, the better you will feel about your presentation. Do your research. Consider your audience. Keep it interesting.
Practice, practice, practice!
Unknown variables make us nervous because we keep imagining the worst-case scenario in our heads. The more you practice
—in an environment as close to the actual environment as possible—the more you reduce unknown variables. What is it like to use a microphone? What is the difference between speaking on a stage and in a classroom? Will my PowerPoint work? You don’t need to be worried about these things. Practice those worries out by approximating the environment to the best of your ability. Whenever possible, practice your presentation in the actual room in which you will be presenting.
Present visual aids.
Visual aids make you feel less conspicuous because you feel like the audience is looking at the screen instead of at you. That’s not necessarily the case, but you can fool yourself into believing that.
By incorporating these three tips, your next presentation won’t be butterfly-free, but it should be significantly less frightening. Remember, giving a speech is much more about the hours you put into it before you ever get up in front of audience than it is the few minutes of your life actually spent presenting.