Six things you need to do before an important presentation

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If you feel uncomfortable about presenting in front of a room full of people, you’re certainly not alone. The fear of public speaking is among the most common of phobias and may lead to countless sleepless nights even for very confident people. Tips to help you control your butterflies and increase your chances of success include:

  1. Practice, but not too well – What is everyone’s greatest fear about public speaking? That they’ll stand up in front of everyone, their mind will go blank and they’ll forget what to say. As a result, many of us end up writing a script and memorizing it word for word. The problem is not only will your delivery appear stiff and lifeless but if you lose your place or train of thought it can often derail the entire presentation. Rather than trying to remember complete sentences and paragraphs, know your subject matter well and the organization of your main points. Speak how you feel, even if it doesn’t come out exactly as you had planned. Use notes or visual cues with key points that can help jog your memory and you’ll be more natural and engaging. Practice delivering your presentation several times in front of friends or family if possible.
  2. Have plenty of rest – Try to have a good night’s sleep before your presentation so you’re at your best the following day. If you have trouble falling asleep, try a natural sleep remedy such as zizyphus, hops, valerian, lactium or chamomile.
  3. Take some time with your appearance – It doesn’t have to be a fashion show, but choose comfortable and professional looking clothing that you feel confident in. Polish your shoes, check your hems, trim facial hair and apply natural looking make‐up if appropriate. If you usually sweat when you’re nervous, choose clothes that won’t give that away. If you act and appear confident, your audience will assume that you are.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the room and equipment – Take a few moments before your session begins to familiarize yourself with the room, to ensure everything is working and to adapt to possibly new and unfamiliar equipment. Sometimes having a back‐up plan is a good idea since technology can be unpredictable.
  5. Take a moment to relax – Before your presentation use relaxation techniques to help lessen your anxiety. Take a few deep breaths, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out for a count of four or tighten and relax the muscles of your body, starting from your toes and working upwards. If negative thoughts arise replace them with positive ones. For example, if you think ‘I’m going to forget what to say and be harassed’, replace it with thoughts such as ‘I’ve done a great deal of research and I know this topic well’.1 Remember that small mistakes won’t ruin your presentation and your audience ultimately wants you to succeed.
  6. Try a herbal memory supplement such as Cereboost® – This clinically trialed extract of American ginseng improves working memory (short term memory) for six hours, both in terms of speed of memorization and memory capacity. When Cereboost® is combined with the herbs Brahmi and Ginkgo Biloba along with B vitamins it can provide extra support.

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Published February 17, 2015
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