In this guide, we will discuss How to not be nervous when presenting in front of a class and a few tips and tricks on how to manage or cope with your anxiety when presenting in public.
How to not be nervous when presenting in front of a class
“How to not be nervous when presenting in front of a class?” you may be wondering. If you have to present in front or a class, no matter how big or small the audience might be, because you are a teacher, a lecturer, a researcher, a student or if you have Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) then keep reading since this may interest you.
Public speaking can be considered as one of the most popular reasons why people feel anxious. Delivering a speech in front of an auditory or a classroom can be quite overwhelming and scary. But How can I be feel confident enough to speak in front of an audience?
As WikiHow indicates “Preparation, practice, and presentation will help you achieve your goal of staying calm, cool, and collected during your speech.” But How do we go about doing that? Do I need to throw myself out there and present? No. If you throw yourself without developing any skills or preparing yourself physically and mentally then it will make your anxiety go to the roof and impact you negatively.
Step 1: Managing your nerves
It is important to start by understanding and identifying why you are feeling nervous. Is it because you are afraid of people laughing at you or criticizing? Or Is it because you are afraid of saying something that will embarrass yourself in front of everyone?
Of course, those preoccupations are real and totally valid but try to challenge the thoughts you have and contrast them with facts and reality. If you are worried about people laughing or criticizing then what can you do to prevent it? Maybe by preparing your topic researching it thoroughly or practice how to take criticism in a positive instead of a negative way. Everything is about perspective really.
If the problem is you are not feeling prepared because you do not know how to present or you lack those public speaking skills then ask someone you have seen is excellent at presenting, and ask them if they can let you know some tips or tricks and even give you some feedback.
In addition, you could try some guided meditation exercises that will allow you to focus on the present moment instead of the past or the future. It can also help you learn how to breathe effectively when anxiety kicks in and how to manage it using a different perspective.
Step 2: Preparing for your presentation
The idea here is to plan your speech in advance and it is a matter of organizing it. If you own your topic and you are the expert then this will automatically boost your confident and even if you do not know everything about the topic (hopefully it is something you are passionate about), remind yourself you are allowed to make mistakes.
In addition, prepare it in advance because if you plan to do start preparing the night before then chances are it will not go as expected. Think about the specific information and topics you’ll like to talk about and organize the information in a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation or any other visual aid of your preference without adding too much information in them, keywords will be enough.
Also, it is very helpful to practice how you will deliver your speech at least 20 to 30 mins a day. Recording yourself or practising in front of a mirror can help you see how is your body language, how slow or how fast you tend to talk and this will allow you to improve certain aspects of your presentation.
NOTE: try to remind yourself you are telling a story, so remember to have a beginning, a middle and an end. This way you can organize your information and be coherent on how you present it, allowing others to follow you through the main ideas and conclusion.
Step 3: Speaking in front of your class (audience)
Finally, the day has come. You have researched, studied and prepared your topic so you feel anxious or nervous about it but up to this point is completely normal, just remember you have worked so hard for this and you know everything there is to know about the topic. Just try to do your best and have fun!
In addition, do visualize success, how you will do a terrific job from the start to the end of your presentation and even if you make a mistake, it is completely normal. Try some statements such as “This will be super easy, I am the best” or “All the hard work will pay off today, I’ll deliver a terrific presentation”.
Another useful tip is to deliver your presentation as if you were telling a story to a friend, and try to make eye contact with familiar faces or with the same 2 to 3 people in the audience. Finally, remember to do some breathing exercises before presenting since this will lower down your anxiety and let you focus on the topic more easily.
Why do I have a fear of public speaking?
According to Steven Cohen, a leading expert on persuasive communication and effective presentation skills, “the fear of public speaking actually arises from two primary sources, your personality and uncertainty…”. When referring to personality he states that there are people that feel more comfortable in social situations whereas other people are less comfortable in those situations.
Even though there is little we can do to modify genetic predispositions, what we can do or change relates to the second component called “uncertainty”. This world alone has quite an impact and control over people, and we can actually relate to the fact that there are a lot of different things we may be uncertain about. Cohen indicates how the “key” is not to spend too much time in worrying about that uncertainty but rather focus on the opportunity that you have to stand in front of an audience and speak about something you care about.
In addition, remember experiences also shape our behavior and how we respond to our environment. If you have presented in the past and you were humiliated or criticized then this will be enough for you to feel extremely anxious even if it is a different situation or context. Don’t let previous experiences control you, try to bring yourself to the present moment and to the “here and now”.
However, even if we have talked about how feeling nervous or anxious when delivering a public speech or presenting in class, it is important to determine if your anxiety is within the normal parameters. If you think your anxiety is too overwhelming or it is interfering significantly with your life not only when presenting in front of your class but in other social contexts then it is recommended to seek advice from a counsellor or a therapist to do a full evaluation and provide you with additional assistance.
Why is this blog about How to not be nervous when presenting in front of a class important?
We discussed how to not be nervous when presenting in front of a class, and we talked about a few tips and tricks on how to manage your anxiety. Remember that feeling anxious or nervous when presenting in public is normal but you can actually reduce your anxiety by preparing your topic, practising (as many times as you need), allowing yourself to make mistakes, adopting breathing techniques, visualizing your success using positive and encouraging statements, and have fun!
Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to not be nervous when presenting in front of a class
How do I get over the fear of presenting in front of the class?
To get over the fear of presenting in front of the class you can follow these steps:
- Do your research and know your topic but do not try to learn it by memory or you may forget when anxiety kicks in.
- Organize the information. One of the most common tools are PowerPoint (pptx) presentations but you could also use another visual aid to present your topic. Make sure the information is well organized and is comprehensible.
- Practice. You could try practising in front of a mirror or even ask some friends to listen to you and give you some constructive feedback on how to improve your presentation.
- Challenge specific thoughts. When we are anxious we tend to catastrophize and think about the worst things that could happen (contrast with facts and reality).
- Visualize your success. Repeat to yourself “I am going to do great” or “I got this”.
- Do some deep breathing or breathing exercises. This will keep you calm and collected when delivering your presentation.
- Focus on your material and not your audience.
How do I stop being nervous when presenting?
Here are some tips on how to stop being nervous when presenting:
- Prepare your topic and do your research thoroughly.
- Practice either in front of a mirror or with friends or family.
- Visualize your success.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes and don’t be too hard if it happens.
- Learn a few breathing exercises.
- Memorize your introduction or opening.
Why do I get nervous when presenting?
Getting nervous when presenting is very common and normal. When we feel exposed, vulnerable, observed or criticized then we start building up anxiety. This causes physical reactions to happen when adrenaline is released to prepare you to fight or run away from the situation. Our brain perceives this type of situation as dangerous or threatening and sends an alarm signal for your body to respond to the threat (even if you are not in real danger).
How do you speak in front of a crowd without fear?
To be able to speak in front of a crowd without fear is visualizing yourself being successful, and seeing the sequence of steps we are going to take from the moment we go into the room until the moment we get the applause at the end. In addition, learning relaxation techniques through breathing exercises can help us focus on the message we are trying to deliver. Lastly, remember to practice in front of a mirror or record yourself with a camera so you can watch and improve your presentation.
What to drink to calm nerves?
There are several types of drinks that can help you calm your nerves. Here is a list of some of them:
- Green tea
- Cherry juice
- Black tea
- Warm Milk
- Speak So Your Audience Will Listen: 7 steps to Confident and Authentic Public Speaking
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
- Public Speaking: Speak like a Pro: How to Destroy Social Anxiety, Develop Self-Confidence, Improve Your Persuasion Skills, and Become a Master Presenter (Practical Emotional Intelligence)
- TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
- The Art of Public Speaking
Kirkham, L. (2019, Dec.) How to Get the Confidence to Speak in Front of a Class. Retrieved from Wikihow.com.
Cuncic, A. (2020, Jan.) 20 Public Speaking Tips for Students. Retrieved from Verywellmind.com.