Public Speaking: How to Manage Nerves

Martina del Hoyo
Published on
April 20, 2023

Have you ever been assigned an oral presentation for any of your classes and found yourself worrying too much about it? It happens, and it’s extremely common, which is exactly why it is of great help to have a few points on which to base your preparation for the days leading up to it. Here are a few things that you might want to take into consideration when rehearsing:

  1. Commitment!

While a presentation might seem like a task you can slack off on, especially when done in groups, it’s important to stay invested and participate. While you don’t have to do everything yourself, you should commit yourself to the task to some extent so you can become familiar with the content.

Knowing what you’re talking about is the key to a presentation that’ll look natural. It’ll also help prevent you from coming up blank since you will probably be able to remember some things off the top of your head if you already know the subject. This will make you more secure and confident when it’s time to present since your mind will reassure you that you know what you’re talking about.

  1. Find the most useful technique

While it’s always said that having a script for your entire presentation is the best method to nail it, it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone! Some people might feel pressure to remember those exact words and all the points, which can result in more nerves and heavy reliance on the paper. If that has been you, I’d advise you to try other methods, such as simply jotting down a few key points that’ll help you get on track with the presentation, instead of the entire script. Some might even find it less stressful to not bring a paper at all and improvise based on the learning you’ve acquired while working on the presentation itself.

Of course, this varies a lot on each person’s learning methods and social conduct, so you just have to find the one that works best for YOU! Maybe your classmates need the entire presentation scripted, but that does not mean you don’t know your part as well as theirs. 

It may be risky so my best recommendation is to try as many of these techniques as you can at home and then sort out which strategies worked and which didn’t.

  1. Practice! 

As previously mentioned, if you want to do well on a presentation you should take it seriously. That means finding a gap in your schedule to rehearse the presentation at least 2 or 3 times so that you get more comfortable with it and you remember at least a few things to say about each slide. Once you’ve practiced a few times, you’ll start to catch on easily and sound way smoother. This may seem like a no-brainer at first, but sometimes we tend to prioritize other tasks, such as exams, over presentations. While this seems reasonable, rehearsing a presentation requires very little time and is definitely worth it on the day of your presentation.

  1. Reassurance

Of course, this preparation can be great, but when it is actually time to present, a lot of us tend to get really anxious, which can cause us to forget some of our points or lose track. That is why we have to remember that it possibly isn’t that deep! Teachers and professors (or at least the good ones) value the work you’ve done and the effort you’ve put in much more than the presentation itself. Even if it does count towards your grade, they just want to know whether you know the content well, not how well your public speaking skills are or if you can present as if you were reporting the morning announcements. If you still have doubts about this, don’t be afraid to let your teacher or professor know that presentations tend to make you nervous and that you are truly trying your best, even if the outcome doesn’t turn out like just how you had imagined. It may seem unprofessional, but we are in an educational environment where it’s all about learning, so being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is an important part of the process. As long as you still give it your best shot, I promise that they will understand.

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