iStock_000035649392_Large - Version 2It’s no secret that the mind – how we think and approach things – has a critical impact on success. Here are our insider tips for developing the kind of attitude, approach and thinking that will help you to conquer your nerves when you have to deliver a presentation or make a speech.

1. Prepare your content

Being well-prepared has an enormous influence on the amount of free space you will have in your mind as you stand in front of your audience. Instead of worrying about what you are going to say, you can relax and focus on the task in hand.

2. Rehearse

Don’t skip this important part of the process. Speaking your planned content aloud and trying out your planned movements, gestures, words, expressions etc helps to fix everything in place. Even without “learning” what you want to do, it will all seem more natural to you if you have walked through it in advance.

3. Check room and equipment

Never take things for granted. Not checking and arranging things to suit yourself and the needs of your talk could result in on the spot fire fighting and damage control which will interrupt both your own thought processes and those of the audience.

4. Know your audience

Analyse your target audience and prepare content based on their needs and expectations. Predict the kind of questions they might ask and prepare answers to the questions in advance. If you feel well equipped to deal with as many eventualities as possible, you are much less likely to panic and you will be more likely to stay calm under pressure.

5. Have a solid delivery technique

Become aware of the non-verbal signals and style that work best for you – positive, open and symmetrical body language for example, a friendly smile, the competent ability to work well with any visual support or special effects. Anchor these techniques firmly into place so you no longer have to think about them – let them become second nature, a bit like driving a car from A to B.

6. Focus on their needs – not your nerves

Develop the ability to focus less and less on anything that is going on inside your head. Instead, switch your focus of attention to the people you are talking to. Make eye-contact, watch their facial expressions and other non-verbal signals so get an idea about how they are reacting to what you are saying. This enables you to take pre-emptive steps should they be needed or adjust your content accordingly.

7. Believe in yourself and your message

Our thoughts and how we approach things have a habit of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies as what we do and say on the outside usually tends to be a strong reflection of what is going on inside. Therefore, if you uncover any limiting beliefs in relation to presenting and speaking in public, develop positive beliefs to replace them.

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