Presentations: 6 Ways to feel more confident

23 Apr 2018
By Pauline M., Student at King's College London

Do you have to give presentations as part of your course? How do they make you feel? If you feel some amount of nerves, you are not alone. One in four people admits to presentation anxiety.

One in four people admits to presentation anxiety.

But the ability to speak with confidence to groups of people will come in handy no matter what career path you choose. It does not come naturally to everyone, but there are steps you can take to conquer your fear and feel comfortable presenting.

Here are six ways you can become a more confident presenter.

1) Practise in front of a mirror

As silly as this may feel, practising your presentation out loud is the best way to feel more confident. Practising in front of a mirror is even better. I have often done this when I have had to deliver assessed presentations because it enables me to work on both my delivery and body language.

Speaking out loud helped me understand what my weak points were and improve my presentation skills.

2) Confidence comes from preparation

It is important to feel confident when delivering a presentation. Whenever I have felt uncomfortable before a speech, I have reassured myself with the fact that I am well prepared and that my audience wants to hear what I have to say. I have always felt inspired to share my knowledge, which has helped me feel more relaxed.

Changing the tone of my voice, its pace, and the manner in which I speak can also help me feel more sure of myself.

3) Don’t forget to time yourself

Most university presentations have a specific time limit. But even if they don’t, it is still good to know how long it will take to say your words. This is why it’s so important to practise out loud.

If you know exactly how much time it takes to deliver each section of your presentation, you should feel more comfortable moving from one point to the next and confident with how it’s going. It will also help you pace yourself to make sure you are not rushing through something important.

4) Don’t forget about your audience

It is very common to forget to address your audience directly when you’re feeling nervous or shy. But looking at the floor or letting your gaze wander can actually make you more nervous, as you can start to worry that you’re not doing a good job.

You don’t have to look every single person in the eye to appear engaging. Sometimes it is enough to look at the back of the room, just above everyone’s heads, and to occasionally look around the group.

If you can, try this. Look at one person as you make a point. See that they’ve taken it in, then make your next point to another person and check they’ve understood. It’ll feel more like you’re having a conversation with one person at a time, rather than presenting to a room.

5) Make use of your hands

When done correctly, certain hand gestures can really improve your performance. Making gestures to support and underline certain important points in your speech will help the listener to stay focused and engaged. Your audience needs to feel your enthusiasm, so open hand movements that are made to the entire room are definitely a plus.

Avoid crossing your arms or looking away too much. These are known as closed gestures, and they can give the impression that you feel threatened or defensive.

6) Have fun!

One in four people admits to presentation anxiety.
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Pauline is an English Language and Literature graduate and Masters student studying in London.