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Prep and Practice Will Make Your Next Work Presentation

Shake that Anxiety By Doing Your Homework and Knowing What You'll Say and Who'll You Say it To

Does public speaking make you anxious? This four-item checklist can ensure you rock your next work presentation.

Know your stuff

The No. 1 trick to easing your anxiety about making a presentation is preparation.

Long before the day arrives to speak to your boss and colleagues, start your homework. Gather all the data and supporting info you need to bring your team up to speed. Make your Powerpoint slides, charts, etc. and then study up. Knowing your material is the easiest way to calm your nerves.

Once you know what you will present, work out how you will do so.  Write out your talking points, and rehearse them early and often. Don't ad lib or assume because you're an expert on what you will be sharing, that your talk will go smoothly. Instead, practice, practice, practice. Practicing your presentation will help you find your flow and allow you to speak easily and confidently on your subject matter.

Know your audience

Just as important as knowing your content is knowing to whom you will be presenting it. Is it a company-wide presentation, where not everyone in the room will be familiar with your subject matter? Or will you be speaking only to coworkers in your segment? Will clients be in attendance?

Michael Smith, in a post at The Muse , recommends these steps to make sure your presentation is on-point:

Know who you are speaking to and “understand who the decision makers are, how decisions get made, how the audience likes to be spoken to, how they like to consume information.”

Know why you are speaking and “identify the question for which you will develop an answer. Often this is the presentation topic. Re-frame the topic as a question you'll answer. In other words, “marketing plan” will translate to: How do we grow revenue by 25 percent next year?”

Know your answer before the question is asked. “Do the analysis, thinking, and work required to develop a complete answer.”

Know how you will provide the answer. “Obsess about how you structure your thinking” to ensure your ideas are well-organized so your answers will be, too.

Know nerves are normal

While written as a primer for speakers presenting to large audiences, Chris Anderson, curator of TED, in a Harvard Business Review Post, “How to Give a Killer Presentation,” puts nerves in perspective: “In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It's a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you'll be fine.”

Know what works for you

Presentations work when they fit your personality. Remember you are doing the speaking for a reason and be confident in your skills, knowledge and ability in both the subject matter and your ability to share it with others.

In a post on Entrepreneur , Shawn Doyle, president of New Light Learning and Development, Inc., advises “make it a conversation, not a presentation.” Again, while his post might be geared toward those who will be speaking to larger crowds, his tip that such an approach “makes the presentation much more useful and interesting for the audience members” translates well to work presentation.

If your nervousness isn't soothed by preparation and practice, our team of amazing counselors can help you boost your self-esteem and ease your anxiety. Call us today for your free consultation .