In 2018, I saw a larger trend than usual in the area of controlling nerves when presenting.

If this speaks to you, then resolve in 2019 to do something about it!

Be okay with being nervous.  Decide to present. Don’t let your fear hold you back.

If you get nervous before a presentation, or even nervous just thinking about a big presentation…good.  I’m glad to hear it!  And you should be, too.  That nervousness is what gives you your edge, what keeps you on your toes.  Now I know you’re thinking “Ugh!  I hate those nerves!”

Take a deep breath. And hear me out.

Here is how to really control those nerves.  Not get rid of them but take control of them.

I recently read the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseveranceby Dr. Angela Duckworth. I was initially interested in reading it as a parent looking for ways to help my children. Little did I know that the book would really be for me.  Every page I read I got more and more motivated.  It was like hearing my own personal coach encouraging me to keep being persistent; my personal cheerleader encouraging me through other’s stories of perseverance.

How do we get better at anything? Like you’ve heard before (with good reason), we prepare and we practice.  (Sorry, I know you were looking for a silver bullet).  Let me be more precise.  Dr. Duckworth studies what makes people the best at what they do and the common denominator is “deliberate practice.”

Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is executed with the specific goal of improving performance.

How does this apply to your presentations?  When you purposefully prepare, when you purposefully practice you have earned the right to be confident.  And that zone of confidence is where you decide how much fear you are going to let in; you decide if you will control your nerves or if your fear will take over.

Science proves that repeating your presentation over and over in itself if not helpful – and can lead to mindless mistakes. Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the presentation into parts, identify a specific component, work on it, test new strategies for it, and then integrate your learning into the overall presentation.

For example, focus on the opening, a specific story, an area you need to persuade, engage or add emphasis.

This year, commit not only to preparation and practice to control those nerves but to prepare and practice deliberately. Make the decision to manage your presentation nerves. Look for opportunities to shine. 2019 is your year.  Don’t let the fear or anxiety hold you back, and StandOut in 2019.