9 ways to calm your nerves before public speaking

Public speaking is one of the most common fears, but the right preparation can ease your anxiety, Marcel Schwantes writes for Inc.

In an interview with David Greenberg, the president of Simply Speaking, Schwantes rounds up nine of Greenberg's questions to ask yourself to eliminate presentation anxiety.

1: Are you nervous about being nervous?

Being nervous isn't all bad. Your nerves can produce adrenaline, which helps you think quickly and sound enthusiastic, says Greenberg.

2: Are your standards too high?

Not even professional public speakers can deliver a perfect presentation. Instead of fixating on being perfect, focus on being yourself, he recommends.

Ultimately, whatever emotions you're feeling will radiate to your audience as well, says Keith Yamashita, a leadership consultant. If you feel genuinely passionate about what you're saying, your audience will too, he says.

3: Do you feel like an expert?

If you become an authority on your topic, you will likely know more than most of your audience, Greenberg says. The more you feel like an expert, the more confident you'll seem, he adds.

Also see: 12 ways to project confidence while public speaking

4: Are you presenting a dialogue?

Calm your nerves by involving your audience. If you deliver your presentation as a dialogue, not a monologue, you can take some pressure off yourself and boost audience engagement, Greenberg suggests.

5: Are you taking deep breaths?

Deep breaths elicit a physiological relaxation response, says Maria Gonzales, the author of Mindful Leadership. Three inhales and exhales help alleviate spur-of-the-moment tension, she adds. Deep breathing exercises that use your stomach muscles can also calm the nervous system, Schwantes writes.

6: What does success look like?

As you prepare for the presentation, picture yourself as a confident and enthusiastic speaker. If you visualize a successful presentation, your mind can help "turn your picture into a reality," Greenberg says.

7: Are you practicing aloud?

Rehearse your speech aloud until you feel comfortable, Greenberg suggests. Get in front of a mirror, friends, or even a dog, to get honest feedback, he adds.

Related: What to do with your hands during a presentation

8: Are you avoiding coffee?

Caffeine can make you seem nervous and jittery, Schwantes writes. Alcohol is another beverage you should avoid before a presentation, he adds.

9: Are you making eye contact?

When the presentation happens, don't forget to make eye contact, Greenberg says. Your audience will feel more engaged and you'll get a confidence boost seeing that they're interested in your speech, he adds (Schwantes, Inc., 11/15). 

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