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Relaxation techniques for delivering Presentations


One of my senior managers knows all about the importance of preparation, planning and practise to ensure that a presentation is successful, but he says that he still feels very very nervous beforehand. He says that there are times when he feels physically sick. I was wondering if anyone knows of any techniques to help with this, or any useful websites. (We know all the usual ones, like taking deep breaths etc.)
Ceri-Anne Bailey

22 Responses

  1. relaxation
    Many years ago when I was young aspiring trainer, a very experienced colleague told me two things:

    1) Prepare as much as you can but don’t overdo it

    2) Imagine it going well instead of falling into the trap we all do (ie it not going so well). Take some time out and imagine it in a totally positive way. He’s obviously done it before and can do it. Concentrate on the things done well before and how he will do them well again.

    I still use it today ten years later. It can be used for things like presentations or interviews etc. Once you get in the habit, it becomes natural. But like anything, you have to work on it.

    Just picture yourself….doing it well!! Ignore the possible disasters, they haven’t happened and their is no evidence that they will happen, except in your head.

    Hope it helps. It certainly helped me and still does to this day.

    Steven Rowe

  2. Centering
    I’ve used the technique of confidence centering for many years now, and regularly train people how to do it on Presentation Skills courses.

    If you’d like me to talk you through it on the phone, please give me a call on 01843 584264 – as it’s not one that you can easily write down in 2000 characters.



  3. R E L A X X X X!
    Hi Ceri-Anne,

    A topic close to my heart!! Suggest your colleague trie “Present Yourself” by Michael GELB, & (if it is still in print in teh UK) “The Silva Mind Control Method” by Jose SILVA. “Positive Thinking” by Vera PEIFFER, “Creative Visualisation” by Shakti GAWAIN also have lots of helpful ideas — you might also try “Superlearning” by Ostrander.
    I’ve also practised (a bit) of Qi Gong, used a “Light & Sound” “Mind Machine” to good effect. Steven’s comments about “seeing the success” are very appropriate!
    Contact me directly if I can offer more help!!


  4. Relaxation
    Stephen Rowe has given you good advice

    TRy getting your people to transfer experiences from job interview situations,e.g.

    a)Recall in your mind a funny incident before you go on stage
    b)Think tall – imagine a book on your head,one foot forward and smile

    c) Step back – you’re nervous.But what about your audience.Will they have anything individually or collectively to be nervous about? Address that first or signpost you will later

    d)If very nervous, shoot up your first slide so they look at, then you, back to the slide and then you walk their talk on that first slide!

    Good luck!


  5. Be positive
    Ask yourself why you feel nervous. Assuming the presentation is properly prepared then the material will not let you down. If you have doubts about the material then the nervousness is not the problem !
    Nervousness is a typical, some would say necessary, physiological response to the demands of performance. If you’re not nervous you’re probably too deep inside the comfort zone.
    You might wish to consider the problem from the perspective of athletes and read up about autogenic training and nervous exhaustion.

  6. Wacky but works
    Consider the following:-
    Choose a perfume or aftershave that reminds you of a time of love, romance, passion…or anything but presentations. If it’s for your gender wear it, if it’s not then a dab under your nose will remind you of the loved one or the moment.
    Choose an item of clothing that you in some way consider your lucky item, could be a tie, shirt, piece of jewellery or something that makes you feel really great. A professional presenter friend of mine wears underwear that makes him/her (not saying which friend) feel great – sensuous and sexy. As they said to me (and this might give away the gender) – presenting is not a day for wearing the greying knickers.
    Lastly, create a ritual that you perform before going on stage – anything from clipping your nails to reciting a mantra.

    Clive Hook
    Clearworth f@sterclass – learning in the fast lane

  7. From the opera world
    I used to get nervous before singing in front of large audiences as an opera singer and one of my teachers gave me a couple of exercises that really help. First covers nerves building up to the day in question ( ie when you know its coming up and get the jitters!) – he told me it was ok to be nervous and that you should allow yourself to be so – but only half an hour before the event – until then there is no point. By accepting the nerves they become easier to control and what happened in the 30mins prior was the nerves turned to excitement.
    The other covers that time just before you go on – its a breathing exercise but an unusual one. Lie on the floor face up but rest the lower part of your legs on a chair so that they take the weight of the legs and feet comfortably from the knees down. Make sure that the chair is pulled up as far as possible so that the upper legs are parallel with the chair legs ( confused?) – kind of like a dying fly with supported legs ! Sit quietly and think happy thoughts for min 3 mins but longer if you can. You have to relax in this position – the blood comes back to the head and the support for the legs makes it really relaxing. In this position you have to breath diaphragmatically rather than intercostally ( ie lower rather than upper) so the panic goes as well. Its a good stress cure and if you just feel like making yourself feel fantastic – do it anytime – hope it helps!!!

  8. Red Knickers!
    Responding to Clive Hook’s comment about his/her friend and sexy undies – try Red knickers – red being a confidence colour which you CHOOSE to wear (but discreetly) and thus put on the mantle of (so to speak). Do I – now, that would be telling!

  9. relaxation
    One of the authors of the book “Change” John weakland (I think) was working with a concert violinist who although he knew all the pieces he had to play got very nervous in concerts and would forget the piece he was playing. Weakland reframed the problem and said you are doing this 90% correctly, but would it be possible instead of forgetting the music to forget the audience? I think being nervous is to do with the way he/she is thinking about the forthcoming event and the assumptions he/she is making about their performance. If they can change their assumptions they will change the way they feel and be able to do it more easily. Cognitive approaches such as these are explained very clearly in a book called MInd over Mood by Christine Padesky and Dennis Greenberger-well worth getting a copy if you want to know more Good Luck Derek Adams

  10. underwear

    I’m afraid this isn’t very technical but it does work.

    Just imagine that everyone in the audience are in their underwear – it’s amazing how levelling it is.

    Good luck Chris

  11. Visualisation Technique
    I used to visualise the whole presentation before the actual event. Starting from me going into the big hall right up to the conclusion of the presentation. During the presentation I control it to be positive. I also listen to Baroque at the same time. Yoga practice also helps us to relax in most situations. Good luck.

  12. If everything else fails
    If you have tried everything else and he is still feeling physically sick try some Bach Rescue Remedy – 3-4 drops under the tongue before going out to present. It is a common herbal remedy for shock or nervousness. It really does stop those butterflies in your stomach, and gets rid of the sick feeling. I use it when I am preparing people to present as trainers. We do the usual relaxation stuff and I show them these “magic” herbal drops that will help calm them down if they need it. 9 times out of 10 just the thought they are there is enough and we dont even use them and I’ve never needed to use it more than once on anyone after they prove to themselves they can do it

  13. A common problem with an easy solution
    Your manager is not alone and the solution is straightforward. I spend much of my time coaching nervous executives in making conference presentations to audiences of up to 5,000 people. Everyone is nervous but the remedy is easy.

    Your manager feels sick simply because of a constellation of problems brought on by an inappropriately high level of adrenaline. He feels nervous because his heart rate is too high.

    What he needs to do is get his heart rate down and he will be fine. The best way to do this (strangely) is to take a reasonably brisk walk in the fresh air for about 20 mins, some 30 mins or so before the presentation – giving him ten minutes to catch his breath before going on stage. This muscular activity provides the body with the signal to switch off adrenaline and hence brings down his heart rate and his feeling of sickness.

    If this fails, his heart rate is very high butwill come down with a drug called a beta blocker. He should tell his GP of his difficulty and ask about beta blockers. His GP should be willing to prescribe these drugs for occasional use. Many actors/musicians depend on a beta blocker simply to get on stage.

    Graham Jones B.Sc (Human Biology) B.A (Psychology)
    The Presentation Business

  14. Relaxation, Visualisation & Circles of Excellence
    First of all lets normalise the situation and the feelings that your manager is experiencing. Public speaking is the number one phobia,it’s important to be aware of that, and it’s also important to be aware that most people would be nervous before hand. Even the most experienced speakers in the world.

    Some NLP techniques should prove to be very useful one would involve using relaxation and visualisation, initially from a disassociated view, i.e. watching yourself watching yourself, imagining all going well with the presentation from start to finish. Then try this from an associated perspective, include all senses to build a very vivid inner movie of all going well from beginning to end. Practice regularly.

    Another technique would be the circle of excellence. Have your manager identify a time when he was in a situation in which he felt very confident and then have him imagine a circle on the floor. Ask him to stand within the circle and imagine the circle has a color. Ask him to relive the past experience, and the feelings associated with it, with as much intensity as possible. Now ask him to step outside of the circle and think of something neutral. Step back in and relive the experience and feelings. Practice stepping in and out. (Feeling self conscious and a lttle silly whilst practising is also very normal!)

    Now have him imagine the future event and imagine that when he steps up to speak he is stepping inside the circle and all of the past positive feelings are present. Practice, practice, practice.

    I’ve tried to keep things as brief as possible but for more in depth descriptions of techniques read any of the stuff by Richard Bandler & John Grinder the founders of NLP. A good start would be Frogs into Princes.

  15. When all else fails try Beta Blockers
    I have been delivering presentations to large and small audiences for the past 30 years and have always but always suffered from the worst nerves possible. As a trainer and public speaker however I have had to find a way to combat these nerves and deliver exciting presentation and interesting content. During the early years I tried all of te suggestions so far presented and some. About 15 years ago the nerves got so bad I ended up at my doctor who prescribed me weak Beta Blockers only to be used at a time of worst stress in presentations saying that this is a common issue with presenters, actors and other performers. Preparation is key but the tablets help to take that very top edge off of the nerves aenabling you to perform at your very best.

  16. Sedona method
    Hi, I would be delighted to forward a self-hypnosis tape to this person.
    Maybe you could look at the Sedona Method
    I am a Sedona Method Instructor (London & S.E.)this is a remarkable way of bringing calmness into your life moment-by-moment. Contact me for more details.

  17. Presenting Magically
    For overcoming stage anxiety I can highly recommend the book Presenting Magically (available on Amazon). The 3-day Presenting Magically training is even better. For details go to

    One of the many benefits gained from the book and the training is what’s called ‘The Trainer State’ a technique taught in Neuro Linguistic Programming which allows you to become calm, centred, focused and balanced.

    Tip: One of the steps as used by Master Presenters to maintain a calm, focused state

    When in front of the audience pick an imaginary spot on the back wall. Now, expand your awareness so that you begin to see more of the room in your peripheral vision. Keep expanding your awareness until you can sense the corners of the room behind you. Then bring your attention to slightly above and behind the crown of your head. Now maintaining this relaxed state bring your attention down into your audience and start your presentation.

  18. Desperation
    My advice would be to stop being so desperate, people will pick up on it very easily. I find that the best way is to do the prep as best you can and then forget it, I couldn’t care less on entering the pitch. You soon find that you warm up after a couple of minutes and start enthusing about the subject. Own the room! I am a tiger! etc etc.

  19. relaxation
    Having taught yoga and relaxation therapy for over 20 years the best method for relaxation is to close your eyes see a place where you feel warm and safe such as granny’s fireplace or a sunny beach. Take in the calming atmosphere and it really works or imagine a staircase if yours goes up then go up to a cloud or hill top, if it goes down go swimming with a dolphin. Water is one of the most relaxing elements even looking into the depths of a glass of water can help ( a brandy balloon is best). Hope this helps.

  20. Presenting Magically
    My wife attended this course and as a corporate coach/trainer she claims it is by far the best presenations training course she has ever done (and she has done a lot of them.)That got me curious so I bought the book and if the book is anything to go by I am definitely going to ensure I am on the next one!

    Here is some info I thought you may be interested in which I got from the Performance Partnership website

    Presenting Magically 3 Days To Transform Your Stage Presence

    Why attend Presenting Magically?
    No matter what you do in life the ability to present yourself powerfully and clearly will always be a benefit. Everyone, at some point in time, has seen a masterful presenter and thought, I wish I could do that Well, now you can!

    Presenting Magically will enable you to develop the charisma, poise and grace of the very best presenters and trainers.

    What will I learn during Presenting Magically?

    -How to banish stage fright and performance anxiety.
    -How to maintain an ideal “presenter state” – calm, balanced and centred.
    -How to quickly and easily build rapport with audiences of any size.
    -Feedback systems that really work.
    -Structuring your presentation so that it works best witheveryone’s learing style.
    -How to use specific gestures and postures to increase your impact and flexibility.
    -How to change your audience’s state of mind moment by moment.
    -How to handle difficult audiences and hecklers.
    -How to entertain an audience and add fun to your presentations.
    -How can I learn all this in just 3 days?

    Presenting Magically is different from any other presentation skills training. You’ll be trained in Neuro Lingustic Programming and how to use it in presentations and training. This will give you a structured model to achieve excellence as a presenter. The 3 days is a mixture of classsroom learning and practical application. Throughout the training you’ll get personal feedback and coaching from certified trainers of NLP. All this dramatically accelerates your learning process.

    Who should attend Presenting Magically?

    All presenters and trainers regardless of their level of experience will transform their abilities.
    Anyone who wants to present and train and hasn’t yet got started.

    Everyone who wants to gain an insight into the application of NLP in presentation and training.

    So what if I attend Presenting Magically?

    Just suppose, for a moment, that you are doing the biggest and most important presentation of your life. You look out at the audience and realise that they are totally with you. You feel calm, balanced, centered and completely in control. You have fun presenting your material and after receiving your well-deserved applause several people approaach you and tell you its the best presentation they have ever seen.

    If you can’t attend the seminar, why not buy the book.

  21. banish presentation fears for ever
    Good advice from all, particularly the NLP stuff, you need to learn the anchoring technique. HOwever there is one more… and it is fantastic! Gary Craig’s EFT. Probably the best person in the UK is Sylvia Hartmann-Kent. She is a master of EFT and gets great results.
    You can email her directly at mailto://[email protected]
    Her website is:

    Here is a link will let you download Sylvia’s free and well-written intro to EFT. You can use this to learn the method in a few minutes:

    mail me if you have any more questions, we use this stuff to remove subconscious inhibiting beliefs in our sales training to great effect.


  22. Converting panic into positive power

    I appreciate this question has been posted for sometime and a lot of excellent hints and tips have preceded my contribution; I think the subject is relevant to a lot of us, so I have 2 things to add which I hope will help.

    Firstly, my own key revelation came when I accepted that I will feel nervous before I present; just as I will feel hungry before I eat. This acceptance became hugely more manageable than trying to overcome feelings of nerves all together. Accept them and deal with them! Use nervous energy to bring presentations alive.

    This brings me nicely on to point 2 – take a look at Talkshop on; there’s an extract from the book ‘Speak for Yourself’ by Cristina Stuart entitled (as per summary…) ‘Converting Panic into Positive Power’.

    Hope this helps! from someone who has harnessed her nervous energy!


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