Pure, painful panic often occurs right before a presentation, when a presenter realizes all eyes and ears are about to be focused on them. Fire alarms go off in the brain. Stress hormones cause sweaty palms and racing heartbeats. Panic paralysis sets in.
If you ever experience pre-presentation panic, try these steps:
- Practice, practice, practice. The better you know your material, the more confidence you’ll have and less likely you’ll fall into a panic mode.
- Check out the room. Visit the space in advance so your brain isn’t trying to adjust to the room right before you speak. Stand where you’re going to stand and say aloud the first sentences you’re going to say. Get comfortable.
- Know your audience. Circulate and say hello to audience members before you present. Looking out at familiar faces lessens fear of the unknown.
- Breathe. Keep breathing slowly and deeply. With each exhale, tell yourself you’re pushing out tension.
- Smile. Research indicates smiling reduce stress and lowers heart rates. But it takes a genuine grin—so smile while thinking of something or somebody that relaxes you and brings you joy.