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Shake off Presentation Nerves

Even seasoned trainers feel it — that edge of nerves that accompanies you to each new session or presentation. Despite my experience as a circus clown (yup, it’s true) and negotiations trainer, I still get a buzz of nervous energy at the start of an event if I’m training, facilitating, or presenting in front of a group. Teachers feel it too, on that first day of school!

Maybe it’s good because it keeps us on our toes and forces us to be cognizant of the first impressions we’re making.  Still, we do need to keep it in check so that it remains “good energy” and doesn’t become debilitating.

Sean Gobeil, a Senior Training Specialist from Ontario, Canada posted a question on Linked-In that got to the heart of this question: “What is your #1 tip for trainers to shake off nervousness during a presentation?”

Here are some of the most “liked” suggestions:

  • Be prepared. Know your material. Rehearse!
  • Find a friendly audience member, establish eye contact, and exchange smiles. ~ Bonnie James
  • If possible, meet and greet your learners and chat with them over a coffee before the session begins; much easier to train to a group who are not ‘strangers.’ ~ Adrian Hanson, LL.B, TAP.cert, MLPI
  • Tell a humorous story! ~ Sangameshwar S. Abhinapu
  • Self-depreciating humor at the start is good for both the audience and the facilitator! For instance, “My mother told me to put on a jacket to show respect; now that I have shown you my respect I am taking off this jacket!” After this, I know I have the audience and I’m relaxed. ~ Herman de Vries
  • Write down a list of “What is the worst thing that can happen?”  Once the list is complete, write down two or three simple things that can be done to manage the risks. ~ Patrik Johansson
  • Stop thinking about yourself and focus on the participants. How can you connect with them? Help them connect with each other? Get them to verbalize their interests, concerns, or passions? Even though you are presenting information and training others, you are not the star of the show. It’s all about the learners. ~ Jeanne Etcheverry
  • Have a backup plan for the “just in case” times like when equipment doesn’t work. ~ Angel Hodsdon
  • Play a short video related to the topic as they start to come in and throw some comments, it encourages the audience to start talking and helps the facilitator to establish a rapport fairly quickly. ~ Samer al Aghawani

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