5. The Day
If possible, visit the room and the location where you will be speaking in advance. Have a look at the room and find out what facilities are available. Can you bring your own laptop, can you use the beamer? Try everything out and be sure you know how to set yourself up. Check where you will be standing. (This will help you visualise later.) A good guideline is to keep your hands at a 90-degree angle to each other and to fit the audience in. If you can do that, you are in a good place.
What to wear? Clothing choice can play a role. Some people feel better when they look their best. The audience also likes to see someone who has gone out of his way to look well-groomed. Put on something that brings out the best in you and shows something of you. Bas doesn't need a suit, he feels uncomfortable in it. His clearly best t-shirt and beautiful trainers will also suffice. Decide based on what the audience expects of you and what you feel most confident in.
In preparation for the day itself, it works very well to visualise the presentation. Top athletes also use this technique to prepare for competitions. Visualise the whole day. How you get up, how you calmly have breakfast, how you arrive on time, how you effortlessly get everything ready. How the audience enters, how you begin, the presentation itself, the reactions of the audience, the questions, the conclusion, the feeling afterwards.
On the day itself, make sure you are there in plenty of time. Get everything you need ready the day before. Your laptop or other medium that you will be using, any handouts, your clothes, etc.
The day has arrived and you are on time. You may feel nervous: unfortunately, this can express itself in physical symptoms. Your muscles in your arms and legs will tighten extra. Your body prepares itself for the danger that is coming with the fight or flight reaction, it wants to be ready to fight or run away. This results in hunched shoulders, wobbly legs or trembling (sweat) hands. The muscles in your bladder slacken, making it necessary to go to the toilet more quickly. You also quickly develop a dry mouth, which makes speaking difficult.
To avoid making things even more difficult for yourself, don't choose coffee or tea before the presentation: they will extract even more moisture from you and the chance that you will have to go to the toilet during the presentation or will get an even drier mouth will only increase. Choose a glass of water. Also make sure you have a glass of water within reach during your presentation. A sip can do wonders and is not disturbing.
Practical tips for conquering nerves: Vitamin C helps fight the stress hormone cortisol. Oranges are your friend. Another tip is to freeze berries and roll one in your mouth at a time; it relaxes the jaws and you get vitamin C too. Eating quacamole with whole-wheat chips calms you down with the vitamin B and the chewing. Mixed nuts with their vitamin B and zinc are also a good choice. Asparagus is a mood-lifter and a hot drink also works well. Choose a chai tea without caffeine. Try breathing exercises and find out what you like. Two exercises: roll your shoulders forward and back and put a cork in your mouth. This makes the bottom of your face relax.
Nerves are not all bad: they make you extra alert. Combined with good preparation, they can make you rise above yourself!
After the presentation, you are the last to leave. Make a note of any points of criticism and also of how you felt it went. You may find this useful for your next presentation. Make a note of it, the memory changes with time!
Exercises: The Day
- Go to the room where you are going to present. Stand where you are going to stand, if possible, practise your presentation there. Check out the equipment you are going to use. (Also the light, the air conditioning, the windows, be prepared for everything) Test all equipment and know who to contact if things go wrong.
- Relax, meditate. Look for breathing exercises and relaxation exercises, try them out and see which ones work well for you.
- Visualise the presentation in all its details. Do it!
- If you are disproportionately nervous, find out what it is that makes you so nervous. The Rational-Emotivational Therapy (founder: Albert Ellis) uses the ABC model. It is not the reason (A), the presentation, that causes the extreme nervousness (C, the consequence) but the glasses (B) through which you look at the situation. The glasses through which you look, your own convictions, need not be realistic and are sometimes even irrational. ('I will fail in my presentation and then no one at work will ever take me seriously again and I won't be able to face anyone and will have to resign.') When you express these beliefs and examine them for validity, (How sure are you that no one will take you seriously anymore? How bad is that? So bad that you will have to resign? How many presenters have preceded you in resigning?) you can replace them with other beliefs. ('Of course I want to present well, but if it doesn't go so well, I won't lose my job because of it.') A different pair of glasses will bring about a different consequence: Healthy Nerves! Search the internet for more information about RET and examine your own spectacles.
- Everything ready for the big day? We wish you good luck! If you would like more personal guidance, we would be pleased to welcome you to our training course 'convincing presentations'.