• Question: Do you ever get nerves when doing a presentations. If you do what do you do to calm down.

    Asked by Ellie to Avani, Jeff, Kenzi, Lindsay, Zoe on 16 May 2015.
    • Photo: K. Lindsay Hunter

      K. Lindsay Hunter answered on 16 May 2015:

      It’s a funny thing, but even though I’m an actress and competed in speech events all through grade school and college, I get a huge shock of nerves right before I present! I know everyone tells you to imagine people in their underwear, but that has NEVER worked for me (That’s extremely distracting, too, right?!).

      Here’s how I deal with stage-fright type nerves:
      1. I practice A LOT ahead of time, even if it’s just for my pets (my animals know a LOT about human evolution!). I also time my practice runs to make sure that even if I talk a little too fast or too long at the appointed time, I won’t go too far off the allotted time and have to be asked to stop.
      2. I usually script my professional or public presentations, though not my class lectures. The reason I do this is because when I get nervous, I have a tendency to talk too fast or too much or to forget to say things or just not say them as nicely. I also have a fear of going blank in those situations, and having the words in a script in front of you eliminates that fear.
      3. I try to anticipate any questions and come up with answers to them beforehand so that I won’t feel like I’m caught too offguard.
      4. I make myself take deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth before I go on stage. This slows down your heart-rate, too, and gets more oxygen to your brain.
      5. I take a breath after I explain a PowerPoint slide to allow people to look at it and to make sure I breathe at least once a minute!
      6. I try to remember that most people want to see you succeed. It’s actually very distressing for audience members to see someone meltdown on stage, so they’re actually rooting for you. I also like to look for one or two faces that are nodding or smiling during my talks and focus on them.

      So, in short, the key to dealing with nerves is to prepare and plan a LOT ahead of time, and then use the adrenalin to power you through like a presentation-giving fiend! 🙂

    • Photo: Zoe GetmanPickering

      Zoe GetmanPickering answered on 16 May 2015:

      YES. I used to get so nervous my hands would shake. but I have a fantastic trick to help stop the nerves. Its called Power Posing. When you are nervous your body fills up with a hormone called cortisol -the stress hormone. But you can stop this from happening. Your body posture can make the stress hormones worse or better. Power Posing is a type of posture that makes you look and feel powerful and dominant. Wonder Woman stance is great, but any posture that makes you look bigger stronger and take up more space will lower your cortisol and lower your stress. Spread your legs wider, let your arms take up lots of space around your body. If you have a weak posture-crunch up small and hug yourself your body will make way more cortisol and you will be way more nervous. When I have to present I just do a power pose for 2-3 minutes before I present and take a few deep breaths. By the time i have to present I feel confident and strong. It works great for job interviews, and even dates too.

      When people see other people in power poses they subconsciously think “Wow that person is strong and confident so I should respect them and listen to what they have to say”

      If you are more confident you will do better on your presentations. Because you do well you will get less scared of them. It may take a few months of practicing, but after a while you wont be nervous at all anymore.
      Good luck!

    • Photo: Jeff Shi

      Jeff Shi answered on 20 May 2015:

      I love giving presentations, but it wasn’t always this way. The best way to get used to giving them is pretending you’re just having a conversation with your friends. People like listening to that more too!