With the popularity of TedTalks and Slideshare, GoogleHangouts and Skype, presentations are everywhere. If you haven’t been doing them already, sooner or later you’ll be asked to show off what you know either onstage or on camera.
This is a debilitating prospect for many of us. I know so many people who are great 1-on-1 or in a small group, but get them in front of a big room and they either freeze up or turn into the most boring, monotone person on the planet.
Often that’s because they retreat to what I like to call the “Armchair of Your Mind.” It’s that place you mentally go when you become self-conscious, sometimes to the point of incoherence. We’ve all been there—you begin talking about a subject you know incredibly well but then you think too much about the lens or all the eyeballs staring at you. Self-doubt creeps in. Suddenly you are watching yourself and commenting on your own performance.
My inner dialogue goes something like this:
Me, aloud: “Hi, I’m Manoush and today I’ll be talking about video production.”
My Inner Voice: “I think the salad you had for lunch is between your front teeth. And wait, these poor people are really turning to YOU for advice?”
Video: See how to manage your nerves and connect with the audience on-camera.
That inner dialogue is the reason most people fumble or lose it.
Here’s how to deal with nerves so they don’t distract you
• Write out notes and rehearse aloud beforehand. This way you’ll know what your presentation is going to sound and feel like coming out of your mouth.
• Turn any monitors away from you so don’t catch your own eye and make sure water is nearby.
• Remember being nervous is GOOD. It can give you the added energy to break through the lens or “pop” onstage.
• Deep breathes! Many people either hold their breath slightly or take short shallow breathes when they are nervous.
• Keep your brain busy. If you are waiting to go onstage or on-air, chit-chat with someone or write out a grocery list. Thinking about how nervous you are is self-sabotage.
• Really listen, either to whoever is on before you or yourself. Get lost in the moment, remember that yoga class, and try to “be present”.
• If you mess up, roll with it. MOVE ON. Perfection is boring anyway.
Afterwards, be sure to watch your performance or ask a colleague for some feedback. You need to know if that shirt looked awful or yes, that joke was a hit! But be easy on yourself. Presentations are plentiful these days—you won’t have to wait 4 years to get another chance to bring home the gold.
Manoush Zomorodi’s on-camera expertise comes from years of reporting and producing for BBC News and Reuters Television. For more tips and techniques, check out Manoush’s ebook Camera Ready: How to Prepare Your Best Self & Ideas On Air and Online and follow her on Twitter @manoushz.