Can stopping one habit really reduce your presentation jitters?



If you can stop focusing on what you can’t control, you can significantly reduce your anxiety before giving any type of presentation.

When we step up to the podium, deliver a webinar, or present to others at a weekly team meeting, there are a number of factors we can’t control, and this can trigger anxiety.

We crave to know all of those factors so we can increase our feeling of control and feel more comfortable during our presentation. We believe this will make us less anxious but it only creates more stress. Rather than worrying about what you can’t control, I recommend re-focusing on the essentials:

  1. Realize that you have limited control over any situation.

We tend to worry about many things that are out of our control. As we watch the news, for example, we might learn about a terrible conflict, wildfires or grim economic forecasts. It’s easy to let these things occupy your mind and keep you awake at night.

But most of us have zero control over how these things develop. Stressing about them drains our energy and diminishes our ability to focus on what we can control.

Accept that things will happen that are out of your control and focus your attention on preparing for your presentation meticulously.

  1. Observe that worrying about things you can’t control is a sign of a ‘victim mindset’.

A focus on what we can’t control can become an excuse to stay passive. But that’s not for you! Simply be aware of times when your focus is on what you can’t control then shift your focus.

  1. Train yourself to focus on the things you can control.

Being aware of the wide array of things we can’t control and accepting it has the potential to make life a lot lighter. It frees our energy and creates space for what we can control: what we choose to think about, how we serve our clients, lead our teams and tend our friendships. Ultimately this can make us more effective in carrying out our unique mission on earth.

  1. One thing you have control over when presenting is your ‘content’.

Prepare your message and your story as well as you can. Preparation breeds confidence.

  1. Another thing you have control over is your performance.

How we show up as a speaker or presenter takes practice, but it’s something we can get better at every time we do it if we choose to.

  1. While you have limited control over the audience, you do have control over your awareness of their state by reading the room and adjusting your approach.

This is an incredible insight. A brilliantly prepared presentation or well-performed speech can fall flat simply because the presenter does not read the room. The best presenters scan the room (or the pictures of people on the screen) before beginning and make an effort to engage people visually before starting.

  1. When presenting virtually or in person, you always want to take control of the technology.

 This may seem trivial, but in today’s digital environment it is of utmost importance. You can have the best content and practice for hours, but if you are not familiar with all the technology involved in your presentation, you could end up looking unprepared and feeling flustered and frustrated.  You are in control of the time you spend testing it, practicing with it and testing it again. The confidence you’ll develop when you know how the technology works will spill over to your presentation and the way you show up.

In summary, accept what you can’t control, start controlling your thoughts, focus on your preparation and build your confidence along the way.