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Curing Presentation Nerves – by Bill Grist

My husband has been thinking about nerves….

Bill Grist

Virtually everyone who works for Grist has worked in television, and most have worked for the BBC.  Why?  Because when you consider how nervous many of us feel when talking to a dozen people consider how you would feel if there were a million watching?

TV is a very exposed place and so our core principles:

Analyse what the audience want

Plan meticulously

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more

are vital in telly, and equally vital for you.

So why don’t people on TV look more nervous?  There are 2 answers to this, firstly, they usually are, but they are hiding it. And secondly, they have confidence that they are properly prepared.

So, from the top…

What is the cure for nerves?

There is no “cure” for nerves.  You should be hyped-up.

TIP – If your nerves are bothering you – that means you are spending more time thinking about your nerves than the presentation – then think this: I’m not nervous, I’m really excited.

The “I’m not nervous, I’m excited” thing is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.  It works for me. and for many others.  Tell yourself how things are and you believe yourself.  Maybe we’ll come back to that another time and unpick it some more…

So, you are excited, but you want to keep that to the right level.  Adrenaline actually improves our performance, until we get too much and we approach the first stages of shock – mind freeze, cold hands, rigid body.

How do I manage my nerves? (This is the correct question.)

TIP – do not clean your shoes after you have put your clean ironed shirt on.

Apologies for this being very male, but the point is the same for all of us.  I once cleaned my shoes when dressed for a job interview.  I got black shoe polish on my shirt.  I then found I didn’t have another clean shirt….  So now my stress levels were multiplying.

It’s not about shoes though. the point is, there are many things you can do to reduce stress.  Make sure the equipment is working the night before, print your notes the night before (printers just know when to run out of paper/ink), have a back-up copy, leave lost of time to get where you’re going, clean your shoes the night before… and on and on.

All of these reduce stress to useful levels.

TIP – the best cure for nerves is to look at your notes as you prepare to speak and realise two things:

1. This is good.

2. I know this well. I am prepared.

Or to put it another way:

Analyse what the audience want

Plan meticulously

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more

Then, when your presentation goes well, and it will, store that away, so next time, you spend less time thinking about being nervous and more time working on what you are going to say.

So maybe there is a cure for nerves.  Work hard at preparation, rehearse, deliver, repeat until confident.

But never, never, never forget what got you to this confident place and think you can wing it.


About gristpresent

Presentation, Q&A and Engagement Coach. We help you win more business. Also BAFTA-winning film maker. See our new site www.grist.co.uk


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