I can remember the sleepless nights before having to give a presentation before my class in school and as an adult in my career. However, I have learned some ways to calm my nerves over the years before presenting, and wanted to share them with you:

Don’t memorize what you plan to say: ​Many times we confuse preparation with memorization. Don’t memorize what you are going to say word for word, because that will stress you out! Unlike a play in which you need to memorize lines for the other actors to know when to then speak their lines, you do not have to do this when you are public speaking. You know your content better than anyone in the audience, so as long as you cover the major points you need to, there is no need to memorize your talk or presentation.

Prepare the first thing you will say: ​What will be the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you stand up to speak? Don’t open with something boring such as, “I’m glad to be here today” or “Let’s get started.” Instead, prepare an attention getting opening that you know will get the audience’s attention. It will make you feel more confident in the beginning when you know exactly how you will open your talk.

Be the first to arrive: ​When you arrive before anyone else does, you are able to eliminate so many unknowns. If you’re going to be speaking from stage, walk up on the stage to get a feel for it. Claim the chair that you will sit at before you are called on to present. Place your bottled water, your notes, and anything else you need up at the lectern or podium so that you will have everything you need at your fingertips. 

Mingle with the audience: ​Before you start speaking, mingle with the audience. You can stand at the door and greet them as they enter the room or walk around the room and introduce yourself. This will calm you, as it takes the attention off of you and focuses it on others. Also, others will feel more connected with you before you even stand up to speak.​Em introduced to begin speaking.

Embrace your nerves: ​Realize that your nerves are adrenaline. They are keeping you alert and on your game. They are not there to paralyze you!