Skills Centre

Coping with Presentation Nerves

The symptoms of nerves can include “butterflies” or a queasy feeling in your stomach, sweaty palms, a dry throat and the panic that your mind will go blank before your opening lines.

Fortunately, there are some tried and tested strategies to manage your nerves.

These techniques will not get rid of your nerves; instead they will help you to use your nerves to your advantage. With the adrenaline that is being pumped around your body, you can use this energy to communicate enthusiastically, convincingly, and passionately.

Remember, the key to coping with nerves is to always be well prepared and well-rehearsed in order that you feel confident.

When you feel nervous before a presentation, try the following strategies and exercises to help you.

Practice Deep Breathing

Adrenalin causes your breathing to become shallow. Deep breathing will also help with voice quivers, which can occur when your breathing is irregular.

Drink Water

Adrenalin can cause a dry mouth, which in turn leads to getting tongue-tied. Have a glass or bottle of water handy and take sips occasionally, especially when you wish to pause or emphasise a point. Do not to take large gulps of water, you don’t wont to choke in front of your audience!

Chew Gum

Chewing gum before a presentation may help you to feel more relaxed. Research has shown that the act of chewing can increase your alertness and help to reduce anxiety. But remember to get rid of the gum when you start your presentation!


Smiling is a natural relaxant that sends positive chemical messages through your body. Smiling and maintaining eye contact also help you build rapport with your audience.

 Use Visualisation Techniques

You may be told to imagine your audience naked!  But, you will probably prefer to imagine that you are delivering your presentation to an audience, that is interested, enthused and smiling. Keep this positive image in your mind and recall it just before you are ready to start or when you are feeling unsure during the presentation.


If you feel like you are losing your place in your presentation or have forgotten the next section, before you start talking, pause, make eye contact, and smile. This moment is relaxing and gives you time to adjust yourself.

Slow Down

Speak more slowly than you would in a conversation, and leave longer pauses between sentences. This slower pace will calm you down, and it will also make it easier for your audience to hear you, especially at the back of a large room.

Move Around

Move around a little during your presentation as this will expend some of your nervous energy. However, try not to pace backwards and forwards or rock on your heels as these activities can be distracting.

Do not Think About Yourself

Remember that the audience is there to get some information and that it is your job to put that information across to them.  Just think about communicating your message as effectively as possible.

Now you are armed with these techniques you can give your presentation with no fear of your nerves getting the better of you!