Tips to help overcome Presentation Anxiety

Performance Anxiety (PA) sufferers engage in common thinking traps that lead to emotional distress and self-focused attention (concentration turning inwards towards the self rather than on the task at hand).  This takes the individual out of the present skewing his perspective thereby putting him at risk of losing the clarity and relaxed awareness needed for a successful performance.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective type of therapy that targets thinking and behavioural patterns that fuel PA.  

For those suffering with PA at office meetings and presentations, here are some practical tips to help overcome presentation anxiety

  • Practice practice practice basic presentation technique.  Practice with a friend who can give you feedback on your delivery.  Take your time during your presentation and pause occasionally.  Ask questions thereby allowing the audience participation.   This, as well as giving your audience clear and well organised information will keep them interested and on board. 
  • Redirect self conscious attention away from yourself towards your audience.  Pick a colour and search for it in the audience while pausing.  Ask your audience a question that will link you to the next part of your presentation.  Engage with the audience.  This will take self destructive attention away from yourself and redirect it constructively towards the people who matter.
  • Stop mind-reading.  Get constructive feedback from trusted colleagues instead.  Ask questions about anything you struggled with or areas your felt were weak.  What was problematic to you may not have been noticed or may not have been problematic to the audience.  You are not a mind reader and attempting to do so will fuel your insecurities.
  • Stop Perfectionist thinking.  Your audience is not expecting a perfect delivery.  Be prepared for your presentation, but don’t expect to know the answer to every question.  You can often bat questions back to the audience to add a participative dynamic to your presentation – again directing attention to your audience and away from you.    
  • Learn basic relaxation and mindfulness techniques to cope with your physical responses to anxiety pre- and during the presentation.  The Alexander Technique is one such technique.
  • Be good to yourself:  target mildly fearful situations first using the above  tools and gradually target the most challenging ones. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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