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Leadership & Communication

The best ways to overcome podium anxiety

7 Oct 2013, by Informa Insights

Communicating with Influence and Professional PresenceIt is common for people to feel nervous ahead of an important presentation or speech. In fact, statistics show more people fear public speaking than death!

However, with the right preparation and approach, you can deliver your next address with the confidence and authority of a professional speaker.

Here are some of the best ways to avoid anxiety at the podium.

Do your research on the venue

Thoroughly investigating the venue at which you will be speaking is an excellent way of allaying nerves.

Check the size and layout of the room as this will ensure you know how much space you have to move around.

Does it have a clock or will you need a watch? How big is the audience going to be and will this affect your speech?

You may also want to find out whether someone will introduce you or if you’ll need to do it yourself.

Practice, practice, practice

It’s a bit of a cliché, but practice makes perfect and making sure you are fully prepared before your presentation is vital for controlling your nerves.

Even if you’re confident on the subject matter, you will still need to practice the speech itself – preferably in front of friends, family or colleagues.

Not only will this enable you to pace yourself on the actual day, you can get honest feedback on the parts of your presentation that may need tightening up.

Leadership training

Public speaking may be a large part of your job, so making sure you can approach each occasion with confidence is especially important.

If you’re finding it difficult to overcome your anxiety, you may want to consider taking leadership courses to boost your abilities in this area.

Receiving professional training from an accredited instructor can give you the leadership skills to conduct public addresses that will blow the audience away.

Sleep well, eat well

While sleep may be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re concerned about an important presentation, it’s vital you get a good night’s rest.

Similarly, enjoy a hearty breakfast to make sure you have enough energy to give a rousing speech.

Try and follow your normal morning ritual as this will make you feel more relaxed and comfortable with the task ahead.

Stop playing the ‘what if?’ game

Worrying about the worst-case scenarios that could happen while your behind the podium will only make you feel more nervous, so avoid playing the ‘what if?’ game.

However, this is easier said than done! If you’re having trouble keeping positive, why not try listing all of the ways in which something could go wrong and prepare a back-up plan?

Whether it’s PowerPoint crashing (bring handouts), a hostile question from the audience (research your topic fully) or stumbling over your speech (practice!), you’ll often find there is a solution to any situation you can come up with.


Exercise has been proven to reduce tension, so doing a bit of physical activity before your presentation could help you to remove any nervous energy you have.

A brisk walk or some stretching should be enough to get your mind off the speech and warm you up sufficiently.

Breathe deeply and stay calm

Taking a deep breath to calm yourself down isn’t exactly ground breaking, but it is excellent advice before, during and after your speech!

This is particularly true if you are prone to rushing through presentations due to nerves and a desire for it to be over.

Once you are finished, soak up any applause, thank the audience and then soothe the adrenaline rush with a few long, deep breaths.

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