How to Overcome Nervousness When Presenting
Do you shake before a presentation? Many with social anxiety have this problem. In this blog post, we will discuss 4 easy ways to stop shaking before a presentation, so that you can give your talk with confidence and poise!
As a general rule, triggering relaxation through imagery or deep breathing is the best way to manage shaking before a presentation because it counteracts the fight or flight reaction. Taking fast-acting medication and doing some exercise beforehand are also good strategies.
Trigger Relaxation with Imagery or Deep Breathing
One way to prevent yourself from shaking during a presentation is to trigger what is known as the relaxation response. There are several ways that you can do this before your presentation:
- Meditation is one way, as certain brain waves enter a lower frequency when meditating.
- Deep Breathing is another, as it can trigger a body-wide release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin that are responsible for a “relaxed” feeling.
- Visualization (imagining yourself in an environment where you feel safe) is another effective technique to activate your parasympathetic system to slow your heart rate and deepen your breathing pattern.
You can even harness the power of all three by doing this one thing: After each meditation session (when you are feeling relaxed), visualize yourself in a calming place such as the beach.
Then, before your presentation, call up that imagery of the beach again. The natural association that you’ve created should trigger the relaxation response in your body.
Add in some deep breathing (in for 4, hold for 7, out for 8) and you’ve got the trifecta of relaxation.
Related: How to Overcome Your Public Speaking Phobia
Release Nervous Energy Through Movement
A lot of people think that it’s a bad idea to move around in a presentation because they are afraid that the audience might view them as nervous or anxious. But what they don’t realize is that when they’re up on stage, all the energy flows out of them and into their arms and legs.
To release nervous energy during a speech, you don’t necessarily need to move around, but rather change the positions of your arms and legs. Make a gesture as you make a point, or shift to a different position on stage as you change topics.
Brooke Gladstone is the host of “On The Media” and while she’s on stage, she doesn’t move around much. But whenever she makes a point, she does change positions–she puts one hand on her other wrist or taps her fingers or shifts her weight onto one leg.
Use Fast-Acting Medication Like Beta Blockers
If the presentation is important and other methods have failed, you may wish to ask your doctor about beta-blockers. Because beta-blockers prevent that rush of adrenaline, they can calm your shaking hands, allowing you to speak more calmly and naturally about a topic in front of an audience.
One notable downside to beta-blockers is that you can also experience a set of side effects when the medication wears off. This may include the following:
- a sense of drowsiness
- feeling faint or light headed
- dizziness or nausea
- tremors (shakes) and sweating
If possible, try to avoid relying on beta-blockers to give a presentation – they can reduce your alertness and concentration.
To offset this, it is possible to switch to half-dose pills (half the size of normal tablets). This will help combat most of the side effects listed above but still lower your shaking hands just enough.
Exercise Beforehand to Decompress
Exercise can reduce nerves by helping cope with mental stress. Exercise is ideal for relaxing the body on a physical level, while it also helps to relax the mind and take it away from worries.
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When both are combined, they effectively help you decompress. Furthermore, exercise lowers the levels of cortisol -the “stress” hormone- in your system which will also help reduce nervousness.
Drink Water to Lower Cortisol Levels
Water is one of the best things you can drink when it comes to fighting anxiety attacks. If you’re feeling like you’re going to have an anxiety attack drinking a large glass of water will help in many different ways.
The first way water helps with anxiety attacks is that it will remove excess cortisol from your body. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when we feel stressed. This is a chemical that can intensify feelings of anxiety, panic, and even paranoia. Water helps to remove cortisol from the body.
When you have too much cortisol in your body, it can make anxiety worse and more frequent. Drinking water will help to lower the number of stress hormones in your body, thus decreasing the likelihood that an anxiety attack will occur.
Avoid Caffeinated Drinks, Food, and Medication
Caffeine can cause anxiety and make your symptoms worse. Studies show that large doses of caffeine can be as traumatic to the central nervous system as an alcoholic blackout, inducing confusion, disorientation, and general malaise.
By avoiding caffeine-containing foods and drinks, you should find that the most intense of your shakes are significantly reduced in both frequency and severity.
All you need to do is abstain from all sources of caffeine for a period of time (or just drink less). Remember: avoid coffee, tea (caffeinated), chocolate, cola drinks, and cold relief medicines which tend to contain high levels of caffeine.
If you find yourself shaking before a presentation, there are some simple and easy ways to stop this from happening.
Triggering the relaxation response can be done through deep breathing exercises or meditation.
You may also want to release any nervous energy by using hand gestures or moving around to different positions as you talk.
To calm down more quickly, it is best not to drink caffeinated beverages beforehand as they will make you feel even more anxious than usual.
Finally, try exercising before an event so that your adrenaline levels are lower when presenting in front of people who have lots of questions for you!
Do you have a problem with shaking during presentations? I’d love to hear what has worked for you to reduce your shaking in the comments.
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