Have you ever watched someone who was a about to give a presentation and you could tell that they were really nervous? Hands shaking, leg tapping, pale face, everyone reacts differently but you know it when you see it and you can just tell they they are really nervous.

Here’s something no one likes to think about, but top performers, they do think about this kind of stuff. Remember, perception is everything.

How do you feel about someone who is that nervous before a presentation? You may want to say that it doesn’t matter, everyone gets nervous and that’s true, but when someone telegraphs their nervousness what’s your first impression?

Do you think that they might lack confidence? Be inexperienced at giving presentations? Now, think about how you look before walking on-stage and imagine the impression you maybe giving to others before you’ve uttered a single word.

The key here is know your nervousness “tells.”

It’s not that you have to eliminate nervousness altogether, it’s about finding and minimizing the things that scream to everyone in the audience, “Hey, guess what, I’m nervous!”

Start to notice what you do when you get nervous. Do your hands shake? Then by all means, don’t hold a piece of paper, it will only highlight the shaking.

Hands get sweaty right before going on-stage? Do your hand-shake introduction early before the sweating starts or if you have to shake hands right before your presentation, find a way to discretely wipe your hand.

So, it’s about being strategic about your nervousness. Take note of what happens when you’re nervous and come up with a plan to eliminate or minimize these nervous “symptoms.” You’ll feel more in-control of the situation and this will boost your confidence in a way that is noticeable to all.

It used to be that before a presentation, it was recommended that you practice in front of a mirror. While this can work, what you will find much more helpful is to videotape yourself. This way you can watch it afterwards and get instant feedback. Try it out. This is a great way to see what you really look like when presenting.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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