I am trainer. I will be† giving a presentation soon, but I am not confident. I am tense and get scared thinking about it. How can I improve?
Fears exist because of unknown things. You aren't certain about your abilities or the audience's reception, so you imagine all the possible ways it could go badly. I assume you know your topic well. Therefore:
- Get a friend to sit near the back and listen with interest to what you are saying. This gives you a "safe" place to look during your speech.
- Scan the audience for several others who are listening and spend time switching addressing one after the other.
- Once in a while move from the spot you are standing so that you cannot stand rigidly. This also gives the audience a chance to move a bit and relax their muscles.
- Practice taking a few deep controlled breaths before starting each section of your talk.
- Don't write out your talk in full. Doing so will tempt you to read instead of speak. You should only have brief notes to remind you what you want to talk about next. Don't memorize your speech, but rather talk to people in the audience as if you were having a conversation.
- And finally, don't be afraid of silence. Most novice speakers feel the need to fill every moment with sound. Your audience needs pauses to process what you just said. You need pauses to sort your thoughts for what to say next. "He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit" (Proverbs 17:27).