5 Tips to Manage your Nerves When Presenting to a Scary Audience

A client mentioned that she was very nervous because she was speaking right after two much older, more experienced men. The audience was full of male CEOs. My client may have found them to be a scary audience.

I read a great article by Adam Grant, who is an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School. In his article, Dr. Grant, talks about ‘manologues,’ ‘mansplaining’ and ‘manterrupting’. I’ve seen what Dr. Grant points out many times in different meetings at work and elsewhere. Check out the research in Dr. Grant’s article

As the presenter, you obviously have to speak up. How do you get the courage to do that if you are in a room of powerful men who may want to ‘manterrupt’ or ‘mansplain’? Obviously not all men do this. Many do.

If you are interested in why it is so hard to be confident when you are presenting, check out my article here.

These five tips will help overcome nerves when presenting to an audience you find scary:
1. Know your content
The most important thing is to be confident that you are there for a reason and to know that you have done the work and you know your stuff. Being confident in your command of the subject.

There are things you can do before you go out in front of your audience.

2. Say a mantra
A mantra is something you say to yourself to get yourself to the right level of nervous energy. My friend’s mantra is “Just Fly in Formation”. When she says it, she is thinking of the butterflies in her stomach and imagining them flying in formation. That causes her to giggle. My mantra is “It’s Show Time”. That sounds like I’m up on a Broadway stage with critics from major newspapers there to pick apart my performance. That causes me to giggle. The giggle is really good as it reduces any fear you may feel and gets you to the right level of nervous excitement.

3. Strike a Power Pose
Another thing you can do is to strike a Power Pose (make yourself as big as possible with arms and legs wide). Amy Cuddy did research that showed if you hold a big position for 2 minutes, you will feel more confident. If you instead make yourself small, you will feel less confident. I often hold a Power Pose for several minutes before I present.

4. Give yourself a butterfly hug
I learned this from a colleague whose child suffers from anxiety. As I was taught it, you put your hands on your upper arms/shoulders, and then alternate tapping: first with one hand, then with the other. If you start tapping in time with your heart beat and then gradually slow the tapping, your heart beat will slow down as well. This is excellent if your heart is racing and you are extremely agitated about the upcoming presentation.

5. Make friends with your audience
Try to connect with a friendly face in the audience. Remember that the audience is there because they want and need the information you are there to share. They want you to succeed, keep them engaged, and provide information they will remember afterwards. Focus on why you are there and your purpose. Once that is firmly in your mind, focus on your audience and that they want you to succeed.

I hope you are able to manage nerves when you next present to an audience you find scary. Some of my clients need help managing nerves. I have provided these tips and tools to them. You might want to pick one or two of the tools and try them. Above all else, remember your audience wants you to provide useful information and be memorable and engaging.

Confidence is one of 10 things that make an informative presentation memorable and engaging. If you are interested in learning about the other nine aspects, book a free 45-minute AMP UP Session to Assess the Memorability of your Presentations. https://calendly.com/brenda-memorablepresenter/45min-amp_up