Top 10 Tips On How To Overcome Presentation Nerves As A Student!

14 Jun 2021

Emily Sleight

Table of Contents

Got a big presentation coming up at university and worried about those dreaded presentation nerves?

Don’t worry, we got you! Things like presentations can be really daunting, whether they’re virtual or in person!

It’s all about remaining calm, cool and confident, and not letting any nerves get the better of you.

We’ve got some top 10 tips here on how to overcome presentation nerves as a student, because let’s be honest, they can be overwhelming!

So, sit back, relax, take a breath, and let’s nail this presentation.

1. Practice Practice Practice!


So our main point on how to overcome presentation nerves as a student is, of course, plenty of practice!

Whether that’s in front of your uni mates in the library or in your luxury student accommodation – practice is key.

Call up your family and go over your presentation, or write down a few notes on some revision cards so it’s nice and fresh in your mind.

It’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself when practicing though, mistakes are natural and if they happen – don’t worry!

We’re all human at the end of the day, and you should be totes proud of yourself for even doing a presentation as a student.

2. Arrive Early

arrive early

Still feeling those presentation nerves? If your presentation is in person, make sure you arrive early so you’re nice and prepared.

Arriving early is important to make sure you’re set up easily, and there won’t be any technical difficulties!

Whether you need to set up your laptop and plug it into the big screen, or need to go over some notes, arriving early is the best option.

That way, you can have some time to prepare, take some deep breaths, and be confident!

3. Stay Hydrated

stay hydrated

A super important one is staying hydrated, not only will it help calm your nerves, but stop you from having a dry throat too!

It’s a good idea to have a bottle of water handy, just in case you feel like it during your presentation.

It’ll not only refresh you but stop your voice from sounding all crackly and nervy – bonus!

4. Power Stance

power stance

Yasssss it’s all about the power stance people! Having a nice powerful stance can really increase your confidence levels and make you feel good.

Sounds silly, but it’s amazing how good you’ll feel just even standing in a certain way!

Certain stances can really make you feel powerful and can banish away any presentation nerves.

You may feel a little weird practicing power stances, but trust us, we’ve tried and tested it and it actually works!

5. Turn Your Nerves Into Excitement

nerves into excitement

Got a bit of a nervy tummy and butterflies? We challenge you to turn that into excitement, it’s a really easy trick.

Try to train your brain to feel excited and ready for the presentation, as opposed to dreading it and biting your nails!

The night before when you’re tossing and turning struggling to sleep, have a word with yourself, tell yourself you got this.

Tell yourself that you can’t wait to smash this presentation, and look forward to a cheeky reward after (which we’ll touch on later.)

Turning your nerves into excitement takes practice, but it’s a really good way of waving goodbye to those grim presentation nerves.

6. Block Out Distractions

block out distractions nerves

When you’re giving your presentation, whether that be virtual or in person, remember to try and block out distractions.

Distractions can make you even more nervous, resulting in you feeling unconfident and under prepared.

Now, distractions could be anything from your mate in the classroom smirking at you, or a loud ticking clock.

Just remember this is your time to shine and don’t let any distractions bug you!

7.  Take Deep Breaths

take deep breaths

Breathe in…and out! Now I know you probably think reminding you to breathe is a little bit obvious…

But, we’re talking about deep breaths here, they can actually really calm you when you’re in a nervous situation.

Take a deep breath in through your nose and let your belly push your hand out, your chest shouldn’t move.

Feel the hand on your belly go in and use it to push all the air out, sounds weird but this breathing exercise for relaxation is fab.

8. Positive Affirmations

positive affirmations

You’ve probably heard the term ‘positive affirmations’ floating around here and there, but what do positive affirmations actually mean?

Well, we’re here to give you a little lesson on them, and believe it or not, they’re actually pretty easy to grasp!

Positive affirmations are all about harnessing positive thinking, and turning negative thoughts into, you guessed it…positive ones!

Affirmations are positive statements you repeat over and over in your head to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging thoughts.

For example in this case, keep telling yourself you’re going to absolutely smash this interview, you’ll be amazing etc.

Don’t worry about feeling arrogant, this is all about being confident, there’s nothing wrong with that!

9.  Meet And Greet

meet and greet to overcome nerves

Of course, this point might not apply if your speech is virtual, but even if it is, you can still meet and introduce yourself to everyone watching!

This will really help ease your nerves, and make you realise that it’s really not all as bad as you think.

Meeting and greeting the people attending your presentation will also give off confident vibes, which is definitely what we want!

10. Reward Yourself

reward yourself nerves

Perhaps the best part of getting over presentation nerves is rewarding yourself with something after your presentation!

Whether that’s a cheeky glass of wine with your mates, a takeaway, or a trip to the cinema, make sure it’s something you know you’ll enjoy.

That way, you can feel positive going into your presentation knowing that you can have a fab time afterwards!

After all, you deserve a reward, uni presentations can be daunting and difficult, but we promise they’re never as bad as you think.

We hope you found these tips useful! We know that presentation nerves are real, and it can be super difficult to shift them, but if you take these steps on board, you’re bound to nail it. Remember to relax, be chill, and be confident! You got this.

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Top tips for overcoming those dreaded presentation nerves

By zcbepma, on 13 December 2018

Today student writer Priya gives her tips on preparing to give presentations at university, and how to calm those nerves! 

It doesn’t matter whether your presenting when you’re 5 years old or in your late seventies – everyone suffers from those dreaded nerves at some point or another. You might be hit with them the day before you’re due to speak in front of your class, going to an interview, a meeting or even going onto to stage. But it is imperative that you don’t allow them to hinder your performance and hold you back from achieving great things!

When you get to university, presentations are essential and they are pretty much thrown at you from the day you set foot through the door. You might be asked to present by yourself or in a group – either way, there are things that are expected; like being able to project your voice, speaking clearly and with confidence and being able to adapt. If what I’ve just said is making you quiver then don’t worry! I’ve devised a bunch of top tips to help you calm and prepare those pesky nerves!

1. Practice, Practice, Practice!!!

Yes, the first tip is the most obvious and the one that you probably didn’t want to hear, but, it is true! The more you practice the more you will start to feel comfortable with the information that you are required to present. This means that when the time comes you will be an expert in talking about it and answering any questions. If you have to present with some of your friends then make sure you practice together and do this more than once. Make sure you don’t stress out too much though! 10 minutes before you are due to present take a break – you need to keep a clear head!

2. Watch other speeches

Have you heard of TED Talks? No? Ok – go online and have a listen to some of these amazing speakers. You’ll find more than one inspiring individual and you can pick up a lot about what makes a good presentation. Note how they engage the audience and how they use their hands to communicate their message.

3. Meditate

This is an optional tip to help with anxiety and the jitters. Studies show that meditation can reduce anxiety and depression by increasing calmness.  It helps to deal with a loss of control and feelings of hopelessness. You don’t know how to meditate and want to try it? No problem – apps like Headspace can guide and give you some super handy tips on how to handle, manage and deal with stress.

4. Stay hydrated

So the tips mentioned so far are all things you should do way before the presentation, however, drinking water is one that you can use during the presentation. Drinking water stops your throat from getting scratchy – which happens when you are super nervous! Bring a bottle and keep it near so that you can reach for it before and during the presentation. (Just make sure you don’t overdo it otherwise you’ll have to run to the little boys/girls room)

Breathing is super important! When you get nervous or anxious you tend to breathe much shallower than usual meaning that your brain isn’t getting the normal amount of oxygen. Sometimes this can lead to hyperventilations or panic attacks. Make sure you take a long deep breath – in through your nose and out through your mouth. This can really calm you down and slow down your current heart rate meaning that you stay calm. Trust me – if you do this you will feel instantly better

Yes, this is no joke. Smiling makes you and the audience feel comfortable. You look confident. You look like you know what you’re doing. There is a reason, a scientific one at that, to smile. Smiling releases those endorphins and little hormones called Serotonin. This hormone is the happy chemical released in your brain and it relaxes your muscles and body – it slows your heart rate and decreases your blood pressure. All good stuff right? Even if you’re not feeling a Cheshire cat smile – do it and it will help the whole experience!

A word from the writer:

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Oxford Brookes University

Presentation anxiety

Performing in front of a group of other students, colleagues and your lecturers is an inextricable part of the student experience here at Brookes. In principle, this is a fairly straightforward task. Yet speaking in public can unsettle or frighten some students.

This information is for those students who become anxious at the thought, or the reality, of presenting their work to others - even though they are well prepared. It also provides useful transferable skills with especial reference to interview techniques.

What is presentation anxiety?

Presentation anxiety is a response to fear and it manifests itself in a number of ways. Physical symptoms include – for example – blushing, shaking, stuttering, sweating, or being tongue tied.

Mentally, anxiety comes through in feeling muddled, feelings of not making sense, and losing the thread.

These feelings are so unpleasant that there is a temptation to avoid presentations altogether.

What are the causes?

A major cause is an overwhelming sense of others watching and judging, coupled with anxiety that ‘they think I'm stupid’. It is easy for these feelings to spiral into negative thoughts such as ‘I'm a total failure’. At this point, our sense of self esteem gets confused with our academic performance. Common issues are:

  • Perfectionism - Sometimes we can pressure ourselves by having unreasonably high expectations of what we should achieve, particularly if this is the first time we have done a presentation.
  • Avoidance  - Avoidance makes things worse because we never have the opportunity to test our assumptions. Going through the experience and seeing that we can survive intact will help us build up our confidence for next time.
  • Past experience  - Particularly if the experience was a negative one, past situations can influence how we might think and feel about a similar experience even though it is in a new context. Perhaps we were teased for blushing or stuttering at school, or remember times when our ideas were put down or rejected by the family or in public. Being in a situation where others are watching, judging or criticising can trigger feelings of anxiety or rejection associated with those past experiences. As a result we may be over critical of our performance, focusing on everything that went wrong, until we feel we are ‘no good at it’. This sets up a vicious spiral: next time our anxiety levels are even higher and we are less likely to do well.
  • Lack of confidence - Lack of self confidence can affect thinking, feelings, behaviour and body language. Labelling oneself unconfident means failing to appreciate the things we do do well. Confidence comes from doing things and having a go, learning from our mistakes.

What can I do about it?

Take control.

The key to success is to think positively; take control of your stress and anxiety by learning effective techniques to combat it. Relaxing bodily tension in order to reduce the physical sensations of stress is a good place to start. If your body is free of tension your mind tends to be relaxed. This helps you concentrate and perform better, take decisions and solve problems. When you are relaxed, you can view each task as a positive challenge, and use stress as a stimulus to help you to carry it out. You could try some relaxation exercises or the breathing exercise below.

Breathing exercise

Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. As you breathe in through your nose allow your stomach to swell. This means that you are using the diaphragm to breathe in and allowing air right down into your lungs. Try to keep the movement in your upper chest to a minimum and keep the movement gentle. Slowly and evenly breathe out through your nose. Repeat and get a rhythm going. You are aiming to take 8-12 breaths a minute: breathing in and breathing out again counts as one breath. Practise until it becomes a habit and switch to regular breathing when you next become anxious.

Problem solving

Find a new way to look at the problem. There is always more than one way of seeing things, which means that we may be able to act more effectively by looking at the problem differently. The key is to recognize our thoughts and the way that they have affected our mood and confidence. Think about:

  • What went through my mind at the time? What is it about this that matters to me now? What does this situation mean to me now? What does it mean about me now?

Finding a new viewpoint will give you more options and keep your thoughts in perspective. For example:

  • How would I think if I felt calmer? Or differently? What evidence is there that I'm useless, hopeless and so on? What is the worst that could happen? What can I do if it happens? Could I be making a mistake in how I see myself?

The run up...

Pigeon hole other anxieties

This involves consciously organizing your mind to temporarily put on one side all the other issues that concern you. Tell yourself that you will address these issues in due course, but for now you want to focus on the task ahead and give yourself time to prepare.

  • The more you do the more you'll feel like doing and the better you are likely to be.
  • Pretend! Act as if you are not feeling self conscious.
  • Have all your materials well organised before you start: pens, props, all your visual aids etc.
  • Do seek further advice on the practicalities associated with presentation skills from the  Careers Centre .

Try the following suggestions:

  • Refer back to your breathing exercises and concentrate on using them to defuse your anxieties and reduce the chances of shaking or sweating.
  • Think positively, challenging those negative thoughts like ‘I'm stupid’, ‘I can't do this’. Replace them consciously with ‘I can do this’. Remind yourself that what feels like an enormous problem to you probably isn't to those watching.
  • A useful technique that can help stop worrying thoughts crowding in is to visualise a ‘stop sign’ or draw a red dot on your work. As soon as you become conscious of your worrying thoughts, concentrate on your "stop" message. This helps keep you focused.
  • Focus on the content of your talk. As your turn approaches take a deep breath letting go of as much tension as is possible. When it's your turn to take centre stage use the adrenaline rush to feel alert and focused.
  • If you feel yourself blushing, ignore it and reassure yourself that it will die down once you've got going ! Say to yourself that you are not likely to be marked down for turning pink.
  • Slow your speech down, it helps you feel in control.
  • This web page was not designed to address how best to present your information. However, here are 3 basic principles: 1. keep it short and simple, don't be too ambitious, 2. use examples to illustrate your points and 3. have a card with your key points written on it, to which you can refer.

Using drugs of any sort (alcohol, stimulants, even too much caffeine) to ‘get through’ can adversely affect performance leaving you even less able to perform well. Facing your fear now will provide you with a skill for life.

After the presentation

  • Be encouraging, not disparaging, to yourself. Don't beat yourself up metaphorically for every mistake you spotted. Maybe the first step is just to survive and be able to stand up in front of the class.
  • Be kind to yourself and reward your efforts, focusing on your achievement.
  • If you make a mistake, use it to help in the future. Don't let it drag you down.
  • Think realistically about what you could have done differently and plan how to improve things next time. Perhaps ask one or two others for constructive feedback.

Where can I go for help?

  • Managing your Mind Butler G & Hope T (1996) Oxford University Press
  • Overcoming Anxiety Kennerley H (1997) Robinson
  • Conquer your Stress Cooper C & Palmer S (2000) Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 

Your doctor

Brookes students can see a doctor at the Medical Centre on the Headington Campus.

If you are not registered with the Medical Centre, you should make an appointment with your own doctor.

Careers may be able to give advice on how to do good presentations.

Academic support staff

Your personal Academic Adviser, Module Leaders or Student Support Coordinator may be able to help with concerns about presentations.


Whatever you are experiencing, we are here to help and support you. If you feel, after examining these resources and putting some strategies in place, that you would like to talk to us, please fill in the registration form and we aim to offer you an assessment within 7 days. 

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When you have an interview or presentation coming up it's quite natural that you might feel nervous, especially if you haven't had to do many before. Learning how to manage your nerves will leave you feeling more in control and able to perform. There are some great ways that you prepare and keep these nerves at bay.

Practical steps you can take

Change your Thinking

Notice any worries you have, write them down or share them with someone you trust. Test out how accurate these worries are, by asking “How likely is that to happen (e.g. I forget some points about why I'm interested in the job/course)? If it did, how can I plan to avoid that?” Try this exercise to help you explore what you’re nervous about, and how to reframe it in a more positive way: Interview and presentation nerves - creating positive thoughts exercise

Now write a quick action plan as to how you can overcome these problems. How could you tackle this situation or problem differently? Build up your confidence by focussing on positives and reviewing your achievements.

Change Your Body Language

Adopting a positive posture will make you feel calmer. Smile, this simple act can make you feel happier, because when you smile you release the body’s natural feel good chemicals in the brain. Watch the TED talk by Amy Cuddy which shows how a change in your body language can affect your confidence.

Move to release any tension

Exercising helps to work out any excess adrenaline and will help to make your feel better by releasing the body’s natural mood enhancing chemicals. Taking a walk and getting some fresh air and noticing the world around you is a great way to take your mind off your nerves.

Change Your Breathing

Breathing more deeply and taking twice as long to breath out than breathing in will have a calming effect, breath in for a count of 6 and out for a count of 12. This in turn will help calm your mind if it is racing and help to level out your voice.

Relax Your Muscles

Relax the shoulders and muscles in the face and neck will help you to feel calm. Practice this activity by doing a body scan exercise or try a guided relaxation techniques. workshop in the University’s well-being rooms

  • Relaxation audio downloads from the Counselling Service
  • Relaxation and mindfulness workshops at the University of Manchester

When you are anxious, you can lose your appetite altogether or feel like you need to boost your energy with caffeine and sugar. Maintaining a healthy balance will help you to remain calm and in control.

  • Preparing for interview questions can help you to feel more confident about what the company does and what questions they may ask you
  • Review your CV so that you feel familiar and confident to cite examples from your own experiences – see interview section of our website
  • Ask them to repeat the question
  • Ask 'can I have a moment to consider that?'
  • Ask if you could come back to that question


  • If you have been advised of your presentation topic in advance, rehearse so you feel practised at what you will say.
  • If you don’t know the topic, recognise that there’s no point worrying about that as it will be a surprise for every candidate. Instead, focus on your audience, and helping them. What do they want to hear about? How will I make sure I deliver that for them? This can make you feel more confident because you are no longer focusing on yourself.

Useful resources

  • Interview and presentation nerves - creating positive thoughts exercise ‌
  • Overcoming interview nerves – by someone who did it
  • Presentation skills online courses - from the University library
  • How to boost your confidence TED talk by Amy Cuddy

You might also find a simulation interview with a Careers Consultant a helpful way to prepare and get feedback on your performance and what you could do to improve.

Interview nerves

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6 Steps To Overcome Presentation Nerves

Standing up in front of a group of people and giving a presentation can be scary. Some people may find it easier than others and for those who suffer from nerves, it can be a real challenge.

However, presentations are an essential part of your Pathway course, which means having to speak in public. This is because this is what is expected of you as an undergraduate in the UK, and also, the world of work beyond graduation.

Whether you are required to present on your own or as part of a group, you must be able to talk clearly and in an engaging way to the rest of the class. We have come up with a few tips to help you face your fears and deliver a great presentation.

Watch other speeches

There are many videos of speeches on YouTube, from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ to Steve Jobs addressing Stanford University students. Don’t worry – no one expects you to become as good as a human rights activist or tech genius overnight, but it is good practice to watch masters at work. You can learn from the way they speak and how they connect with their audience, both through their voice and their gestures.

You might have heard the saying, ‘practice makes perfect.’ The best way to become good at something is to do it over and over again – and giving a presentation is no different. Try on your own at first, then in front of friends a couple of times and ask them what they think you could do to improve. If you’re part of a group, make sure to practice together more than once. Top tip: Ten minutes before your presentation, stop practicing and sit quietly – this will help you stay calm.

Know your stuff

You will be more confident if you actually know what you’re talking about in your presentation. This goes beyond just knowing your lines, if you know the subject you’re naturally going to feel confident talking about it. This also helps should any questions be asked about your slides. So make sure you properly research and prepare for your presentation, and trust us, you’ll want to present it!

What happens when you get nervous is that your breathing tends to speed up and become shallower. When this happens, your brain gets less oxygen and sometimes you can begin to hyperventilate (breathing very fast). As soon as you start to panic, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will calm you down and slow your heart rate.

Stay hydrated

You’re going to be using your voice, so you want it to be as clear and as strong as possible. Drinking water is a great way to make sure your throat and mouth don’t get dry, as well as being great for your general health and wellbeing. Bring a bottle with you into the presentation. Have some before you start and then keep it nearby in case you want some more a little later.

Smiling is actually slightly magical. As well as making you appear confident and attractive, smiling is good for your health! It releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin (all the happy chemicals in your brain) which relaxes your body, slows your heart rate and lowers blood pressure. It’s hard to smile when you feel nervous but take a deep breath and make yourself – it will help you and those you are speaking to enjoy the whole experience much more.

If you’d like to expand your career horizons by studying at Northumbria, then take a look at one of the many  pathway courses  available. Or  contact us directly  for any other questions.

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Why do I get nervous before presenting?

How not to be nervous when presenting, 5 techniques to control your nerves, quotes for inspiration, speak with confidence.

If you feel nervous or scared about talking to someone new, giving a speech, or being on stage, rest assured: you’re not alone. 

Experiencing symptoms of performance anxiety like an increased heart rate, trembling hands, or excessive sweating is perfectly normal. In fact, people often fear public speaking . But the more you’re immersed in these types of situations, the more comfortable you’ll become . 

We’ll explore how to not be nervous for a presentation and offer inspirational quotes to help you step out of your comfort zone.

Man Speaking Through A Microphone In Dark Conference Hall-1

Based on data from the National Social Anxiety Center, fear of public speaking is the most common phobia . The official term for this fear is glossophobia, colloquially termed stage fright.

Stage fright typically arises from the perception that when you're in front of a group of people, they'll judge you. The brain’s frontal lobe aids in memory, and when we’re stressed, increased stress hormones temporarily shut that region down . This is what causes us to freeze up and stop talking. 

There’s nothing wrong with being nervous. We all have different social comfort zones, communication styles, and presentation skills. But we can expand and improve our skills if we’re cognitively flexible .

Cognitive flexibility plays a big role in our behavior and attitudes and impacts our performance. You can use your fears as a catalyst for growth and learning — including giving a great presentation.

improve influence - half size

The following techniques will help you shift your thinking from reactive to proactive to combat nerves throughout the presentation experience:

Before the presentation:

Student girl preparing for presentation writing notes in her computer at home-how-to-not-be-nervous-for-a-presentation

1. Know your topic

Don’t wing it when it comes to presenting any topic. The better you understand your subject matter, the more confident you’ll feel. You can answer questions right away and won’t have to rely on your notes.

If there are a few points or any information you think might arise during the presentation or Q&A, research it and become comfortable speaking to the subject.

Here are a few ways to study: 

  • Break down concepts onto notecards
  • Practice answering questions  (especially the hard ones you hope no one asks)
  • Explain complex information to peers and colleagues

2. Be organized

Take time to thoroughly plan each aspect of the presentation. Often, that means designing PowerPoint slides or other visual aids like videos. Clarify with the organizer what format and technology you’ll be using.

If it’ll be virtual, get your background and room organized, too. This ensures the presentation will go smoothly, in turn reducing stress.  Consider the following preparations:

  • Invite your support network to the event
  • Arrive early to set up tech and get comfortable in the space
  • Practice timing your presentation with the time tracker you’ll use day-of
  • Bring a water bottle and a snack
  • Contact your manager or venue staff to discuss any accessibility or tech concerns

3. Practice, practice, practice

Whether you’re rehearsing in front of a mirror, family member, or pet, you can never practice enough. Ask for feedback about your body language , eye contact , and how loudly you project your voice.

If you’ll be giving the presentation on a video conference, record it on the platform to see how you look and sound.

4. Visualize your success

Thinking through possible outcomes is a great way to prepare — but it can also backfire on you. If you obsess over negative what-ifs, this failing mentality might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

The more often you fill your mind with positive thoughts and visualize your success, the more automatic they’ll be. Positive self-talk can make a big difference to your confidence. Run through the presentation — successfully — in your head.

During the presentation:

Businesswoman speaking from a podium to an audience in a conference-how-to-not-be-nervous-for-a-presentation

5. Focus on your material, not the audience

Your audience is there for your presentation — not to assess you. They’ll be looking at your colorful slides and listening to what you’re saying. Don’t let your mind fill with insecurities . 

6 . Don't fear silence

If your mind suddenly goes blank, that’s okay. It may seem like an eternity to you as you try to figure out what to say next, but it’s only a few seconds at most. 

Pausing isn’t a bad thing, anyway. You can use dramatic breaks advantageously to draw attention before the most important bits. 

7 . Speak slowly

Presentation anxiety often causes nervous energy, so we speak faster than normal. This might make you fumble your words or forget important details.

Slow down. Audience members will be thankful since they can understand you , and drawing out your speech will give you time to calm down, ground yourself , and stay organized.

8 . Take deep breaths and drink water

Breathing delivers oxygen to your brain, allowing you to think more clearly. Drinking water ups your energy, and also gives you a moment to pause. 

Smiling is a simple yet effective way to soothe your nerves. Doing so releases endorphins, helping you physically feel more confident. And a friendly face will make the audience more open to what you’re saying. 

10 . Remember the three "audience truths"

These include: 1) for the duration of the presentation, the audience believes you’re the expert, 2) they’re on your side, and 3) they don’t know when you make a mistake. 

After the presentation:

Businessman giving a talk to a group at a convention center lunch-how-to-not-be-nervous-for-a-presentation

11. Recognize your success

Giving a presentation is something worth being proud of — celebrate it! In addition to family, friends, and coworkers, you deserve a high five from yourself, too.

1 2. Collect feedback

Feedback is a wonderful gift if you use it as a tool to help you do even better next time. Ask some of your audience members what they liked and what they didn’t. Remember, you can learn a lot from your mistakes . 

1 3. Don't beat yourself up

You did the best you could, and that’s all anyone — including you — can ask for. 

Nervousness is perfectly normal, but sometimes our symptoms hold us back from doing — and enjoying — scarier tasks. Here are five tips for overcoming nerves:

1. Practice impression management

Impression management requires projecting an image that contradicts how you actually feel. It’s essentially a “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy.  Let’s say you’re about to make a corporate-wide presentation and feel worried you’ll forget important information. You’ll counteract this worry by imagining yourself remembering every detail and delivering it entertainingly.

Learn from this practice by noting the information chosen in your hypothetical and how you expressed it effectively. 

2. Talk to someone

Emotions are contagious. We absorb others’ positive vibes . Chatting with people who are excited about and confident in our presentation abilities rubs off on us. 

Before a presentation, call a cheerleader in your life — someone who’s on your side and understands your nerves. Be specific, discussing which parts of presenting are nerve-wracking and what you need from them.

3. Do breathing exercises

Mindful breathing is when you pay attention to the sensation of inhaling and exhaling while controlling and deepening breath length. Breathwork has several health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety and improving memory, attention, and focus. 

Before the presentation, find a quiet and solitary space. Breathe deeply for at least a minute, focusing on sensation and depth. This practice brings you into your body and out of your mind (away from nerve-wracking thoughts).

4. Practice reframing 

Reframing is a technique used in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to improve negative automatic thought patterns over time. One such pattern is viewing certain emotions as bad, and others as good. Nervousness feels the same in the body as excitement. Instead of panicking even more when realizing you’re nervous, reframe your impression of nerves as excitement for what you’re about to do.

This excitement will propel you forward with confidence and pride for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something scary.

Here are seven inspirational quotes to help you feel confident and excited when doing something you’re nervous about:

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” John Ford
“ When speaking in public, your message — no matter how important — will not be effective or memorable if you don't have a clear structure. ” Patricia Fripp
“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.”  Sir Ralph Richardson
“The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” Lady Bird Johnson
“It’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public.” Tony Robbins
“The worst speech you’ll ever give will be far better than the one you never give.” Fred Miller

Like any other skill, learning how to not be nervous for a presentation takes time and practice. Acknowledging this hurdle is the first step to making a change in the right direction.  Facing your fears will empower you to take on scarier — and more fulfilling — goals and enjoy the experience along the way. You don’t have to start with a TED Talk. Tackle small challenges like presenting an idea to your manager or practicing a short speech with a friend.  We won’t sugarcoat it — it’s hard to change our minds and habits. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with increased confidence and new experiences.

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Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

30 presentation feedback examples

How to make a presentation interactive and exciting, reading the room gives you an edge — no matter who you're talking to, how to give a good presentation that captivates any audience, the self presentation theory and how to present your best self, josh bersin on the importance of talent management in the modern workplace, 8 clever hooks for presentations (with tips), the 11 tips that will improve your public speaking skills, an exclusive conversation with fred kofman, similar articles, how to disagree at work without being obnoxious, 8 tip to improve your public speaking skills, how to ground yourself: 14 techniques you need to try, overcome your public speaking anxiety with these 10 tips, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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Student home

uni presentation nerves

Managing presentation anxiety

A two hour workshop to help you manage presentation anxiety and develop strategies for public speaking.

Many people find​ public speaking​ or presenting​ daunting, but sooner or later we all have to do it.

When you speak in front of others, do you ever think:

  • The speaker before me was so much better.
  • I'll just speak really fast to get this over with.
  • My PowerPoint will hide my nervousness.
  • I can’t breathe!
  • I'm having a panic attack.
  • The audience doesn't like me!
  • ​I'm going to mess it all up.
  • Everyone will be able to tell that I'm nervous!

If you find ​find yourself thinking about these things either leading up to or during a presentation, this two hour workshop can help.

​By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • ​​Identify the signs ​and symptoms associated with performance anxiety.
  • Understand the​ most common​ causes of performance anxiety and use this information to help ​you​ to better understand ​your ​own anxiety.
  • Recognise patterns of behaviour and thinking that contribute to your performance anxiety.
  • Understand the importance of managing performance anxiety.
  • Utilise various techniques to help manage your anxiety.​
  • Develop a strategy for dealing with performance anxiety when you’re speaking.

Forthcoming workshops

All sessions are open to all students. Check forthcoming events on our workshop calendar:

Workshops and groups


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