Controlling Presentation Anxiety

Even the most experienced professional presenter can get presentation anxiety sometimes. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in controlling it. If you don’t recognize the symptoms of an anxiety attack, then your reactions may come too late. Sweating, hard breathing and nausea are some of the symptoms. Once you recognize the symptoms, you can react and do something to control the attack. The most vicious attack could be irrational fear. This is intense fear which you feel within you which may be disproportional to the threat. For instance, you fear you cannot answer their questions and the presentation may be rated as a failure. There are steps you can take to respond to their questions without necessarily having to answer them on the spot. The presentation might be considered a success despite your inability to respond to all their questions at that instant. The more important aspect is that you get back to the inquirer as soon as possible with the appropriate answers.

Here are some measures you can take to control any presentation anxiety you may be experiencing. Accept your nervousness. This is a normal reaction. Do not focus on the nervousness. Concentrate on the materials. Review the Gantt chart several times to make sure the contents and time frames are correct. Use the opportunity to think about what you are going to say. Do some deep breathing to bring out a calm and composed attitude. Once you are reasonably calm, you can focus on your presentation mentally. During the presentation, try to take a few deep breaths when you have the opportunity. It will relax your nerves.

Structure the presentation to gain rapport early. Get everyone into a relaxed mood. When people are calm and composed, you will be able to discuss the presentation topics clearly and objectively. Bring out the Gantt chart in the earliest time possible. A Gantt chart is a pictorial of the project and people enjoy looking at images and pictures. Go slowly through the milestones and time frames in the Gantt chart. This is your chance to take it easy and inform the audience on the project status slowly and carefully. Some people in the audience might get agitated once they see cost overruns or delayed tasks. Those situations are normal in most, if not all projects. It is very rare that a project can proceed on schedule and within budget throughout its entire project lifetime. In fact, management may even consider that perfect scenario as suspicious and a potential candidate for further investigation. Management is fully aware that there will be cases of cost overruns and delays in schedules, and they are prepared for those eventualities. What is more important is determining how to reduce the costs and bring the project back on track.

The Gantt chart is a good tool to use when explaining your recommendations to remediate the issues. Walk the audience through the Gantt chart and show them the tasks that will be remediated. Point out the effects on the subsequent activities as remediation is applied on the current tasks. Management will appreciate your in-depth knowledge of the project and support your recommendations to control the issues and bring the project to a successful completion. Just keep calm and don’t let the presentation anxieties take over your emotions. Think objectively in a calm and composed attitude. Visualize your presentation and imagine how it will proceed successfully from beginning to end. Positive visualization can enhance your self-confidence and resoluteness.

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