Having coached thousands of people over the course of my career, there are some common questions that always come up. Perhaps the most asked is what do I do before giving a presentation.

Even for me a presentation can still be anxiety provoking. Maybe it’s a large group (500+ people) or maybe a group of V.I.P.’s. Maybe there are major influencers in the audience. Or maybe it’s a new audience I’ve never worked with. These are all scenarios that make me, dare I say it…nervous.

Actually, I’m not afraid to say it.  I get nervous. In fact,  it’s good to be a little nervous because it means you care and you want the presentation to be a success.  The key is not letting that nervousness hold you back from stepping up or giving a presentation.

Here are some of the things I do to present at my best.

  • I stay in shape.  Being physically and mentally fit is critical.  This includes exercising, eating right and getting lots of rest.  We are corporate athletes.  When we are healthy we can perform at our best and our audiences deserve (and pay me for) my best.
  •  I visualize the presentation. Right before I go to sleep and the morning of the presentation I picture my audience and I walk through the event in my head, including what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it.  I also imagine the room layout and think about how I will maneuver the room. Mentally prepare and see yourself at your best in the moment.
  • I am 110 % focused on my audience.  I do this by taking away all distractors. For example, all of my content is complete well in advance of the actual presentation.  I know my content inside and out. That way I’m not thinking about anything except my audience.  I arrive early. I plan what I am going to wear the day before, know where I need to be, what time I need to leave, I get there early, etc. We need to focus 110% on the audience, so eliminate any distractors that are not focused on your audience’s needs.
  • I practice. The notes you write, the presentation in your head and the one you deliver out loud are three different presentations.  The only one that counts is the one you say out loud.  When you have a really important presentation you can’t let the first time you say the words out loud be in front of the Very Important Audience.  It is too risky. Always practice in advance.
  • I remember past success.  I remind myself of past experiences where I achieved an outstanding result from another presentation.  This triggers me to feel confident that I can succeed at this too. Try thinking about a scenario where you gave that great presentation (or something similar) and use that to fuel your presentation delivery. 

Every presenter is different, but these are some of the key steps to giving my best presentation. What are some of yours?