We’ve all heard that old piece of advice that’s supposed to help with stage fright: just picture the audience in their underwear. Well, in addition to sounding a little weird, that strategy doesn’t always work for everyone. Giving presentations in front of your class can be really intimidating, and can cause serious anxiety for a lot of people. Want to focus on getting work done on your speech instead of stressing about how to deliver it? Then follow these seven tips for giving a presentations in college (and none of them involve underwear!).
1. Practice, practice, practice
This might seem kind of obvious, but, if people are really stressed out about a presentation, they might not practice as much as they should. Avoidance isn’t such a good strategy though. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your presentation. Knowing your material will make things a lot easier when it comes time to deliver it to the class.
2. Record yourself
After you do a few solid practice runs, record your presentation. Use your laptop or cellphone and recite exactly as you plan to in your class. It can be really helpful to have some audio or video of yourself so that you can become aware of what you need to improve on.
3. Recite in front of a friend
As an alternative of or in addition to recording yourself, you can also do a practice run in front of a friend beforehand. Not only can they give you some feedback after, but it will also give you a chance to give your presentation in front of an actual person, which can help you sound more natural and strengthen eye contact. So ask someone to take a few minutes and help you out; that’s what friends are for!
4. Focus on one point in the back of the room
We all know that it’s intimidating standing in front of your whole class and professor. Sometimes, this can make our eyes wander all over the place during a presentation. As soon as you take your place at the head of the room, pick a spot in the back and keep your eyes focused on it. Making eye contact with your audience is important, but this spot will give you a place to bring your sight back to so that you’re not nervously looking left and right.
5. Remember: you’re in the same boat as the rest of your class
Giving a presentation can feel like a horrible punishment, but just remember that the rest of your class is in the same boat! Try not to fear your peers’ judgement–since they have to present too, they’re not going to be hard on you. Also keep in mind that when you’re reciting your speech, many of your classmates might not even be listening, but instead going over their own presentations in their heads nervously!
6. Don’t forget to breathe
Anxiety can manifest a lot of physical symptoms. A racing heart, dry mouth, and shortness of breath are some common effects of stage fright If you make a point to take slow, deep, and even breaths, you’ll have a lot more stability, and can feel a lot less tense. It can keep you from running out of breath after spewing out a long sentence, and it can prevent you from feeling dizzy or lightheaded. So always remember to breathe!
7. Lay off the coffee
If you tend to be a nervous public speaker, definitely don’t add any caffeine into the mix! It can increase anxiety and muscle tension, which you definitely won’t want when it’s your turn to present. So on the day of your presentation, make sure to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Stick to water!