4 ways to stop panicking before giving a major talk

Sometimes you have to give a huge presentation when the thought of sinking through the floor sounds much more appealing. Here’s how to make it go more smoothly.

Remember to drink some water

Patrick Allan, a staff writer at Lifehacker, writes about this on the site.

“Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Dehydration can make you feel tired and it can make your mouth, throat, and lips dry — all bad things when you’re trying to speak in front of people. Suddenly you can’t think of your talking points because you’re distracted by the fact that your mouth feels like a desert. Then you’re not only stressed about how you’ll be received, but you’re also stressed about whether you can even get the words out,” he writes.

Get acclimated to the venue

You don’t want to be thrown off by the fact that there’s no projector for your presentation, hours before it happens.

Larry Kim, former founder and CTO of WordStream and current CEO of MobileMonkey, writes in Inc. that you should “adjust to your surroundings.”

“The more adjusted to your environment you are, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Make sure to spend some in the room where you will be delivering your presentation. If possible, practice with the microphone and lighting, make sure you understand the seating, and be aware of any distractions potentially posed by the venue (e.g., a noisy road outside),” he writes.

Lighten things up a bit

Hallie Crawford, a freelance blogger, certified career coach, author and speaker, writes in U.S. News & World Report that you should “establish rapport” when presenting.

“If it’s appropriate for the topic and purpose of your speech, ask an audience participation question as soon as possible. For example, ‘What brought you here?’ ‘What piqued your interest about this topic?’ ‘What are you wanting to learn?’ If asking a question isn’t appropriate, tell a joke early on to relax the room. It will relax you as well. Test out your joke on friends first to be sure it will go over well,” she writes.

Be ready to hit the ground running

It’s important to start out the right way.

A Harvard Business Review article features insight into this from Beth Levine, an author and founder of SmartMouth Communications.

“The most important thing you can do is prepare and practice the opening of your presentation, which will set the stage for everything that follows. As Levine says, ‘The adrenaline rush of nerves usually dissipates in about two minutes. Start by saying something positive or unexpected to set the tone,’ ” the piece reads.