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To hate doing presentations?

(120 Posts)
googlenut Fri 08-Mar-13 20:51:42

I hate it so much and because of that it takes hours of my time in preparation because I get so nervous.
Anyone got any top tips or anyone enjoy them and tell me how they get around not being nervous?

Lueji Fri 15-Mar-13 21:14:59

Yes, definitely possible. smile

Well done. smile

googlenut Fri 15-Mar-13 21:26:50

I really appreciate your support and encouragement but do feel a bit rotten tonight.

whiteflame Sat 16-Mar-13 06:40:44

I think it is a good decision to avoid beta blockers. You don't want to have to take medication every time this happens. You can do it! Like someone else mentioned, it is about acting. I am rubbish at acting, but you can still learn to act for presentations.

First of all, identify specifically what you did that gave away that you were nervous. Did you for e.g. talk too fast, have shaky hands, get a dry mouth so your voice cracked? Work on how to solve these for the first couple of slides, because if the talk starts off badly it often doesn't recover. E.g. don't use a laser pointer at the first couple of slides (say things like "on the left hand slide" and use animation to bring things in at the right moment. Nothing gives away shaky hands like trying to hold still a shaky red dot on the screen.) Bring a bottle of water to the next talk to combat the dry mouth. I find if I suck a sweet/chew some gum in the lead up to the talk it stops my mouth getting dry before hand. Obviously don't forget to spit it out before you start though.

Then, when you stand up and your title slide is in front of you, consciously calm yourself down. Really take a couple of seconds to breathe/take a sip of water and decide you will NOT talk fast/whatever you do when you're nervous. Then, on your first slide, concentrate on that thing (e.g. talking slowly). It helps if you rote learn the first 1-2 slides (including good tone/emphasis so it doesn't sound rote learned!), then you can concentrate on the slow talking etc.

Once you get past those slides you'll feel that it's going well and won't need the rote learn/talking speed concentration.

whiteflame Sat 16-Mar-13 06:45:35

Oh, and my supervisor once gave me a good tip. He said he writes a brief summary of the talk out on a sheet of paper - a maximum of one sentence per slide. This is a summary of the direction/main points of the talk. He goes over this lots of times, as an alternative to rote learning the talk. It means that when he changes to a new slide he immediately knows what the main point he has to get across is (sometimes you can even use these sentence as titles for the slide).

And if you feel yourself getting nervous before hand you can quickly jot down this outline to remind yourself that you know what you're doing.

googlenut Sat 16-Mar-13 09:39:35

The nerves showed in a way I've never experienced before. Which was sweating in my face, cotton wool mouth so I thought I wouldn't be able to push the words out at one point (this was only a 10 minute presentation so this was a stress reaction not a hydration problem) and I started to forget bits of the presentation and don't think I made sense at bits. None I things have been symptoms before so I feel frustrated.
I was feeling very calm and relaxed before hand which is what is making me more angry. Think it was the moment I realised I was 'on' that threw me as I faced the audience (was in a big lecture theatre). I warmed up toward the end when I was less afraid I the audience and realised they were actually listening to what I was saying.
But the reaction felt involuntary. Like it came from nowhere. That's the scary bit not knowing if t will happen again. And while I got a lot of positive comments after I feel bad that I nearly fluffed it and think people (colleagues) were just being kind.

playg Sat 16-Mar-13 11:09:28

Please don't feel disappointed in yourself googlenut. It was your first time, and you did good! People said they liked it, you said yourself they were actually listening to what you said, and they had questions and were interested. Sounds very much like a success to me :-)

And you did all this whilst your body was doing crazy unpredictable stuff. Bravo! So please don't lose confidence, cos with a bit of practise, it sounds like you've got the makings of an amazing presenter, and seriously, it might've felt really obvious how nervous you were, but if the audience picks up your nerves at all, they're not going to see them to be half as strong as you felt them.

The physical reaction will calm down with practise, although to some extent it might always be there, but there might be little tricks you can figure out to lesson your symptoms; make-up, chewing gum beforehand.

Personally for some presentations, I never know which until I stand-up, for the first 5mins my legs and hands shake - heavens knows why, so I move my body a bit more to help it "unlock" - wide expressive arm gestures, allowing myself to take steps and shift weight.

badbride Sat 16-Mar-13 11:13:43

googlenut Congrats on your presentation--it sounds like the audience liked it. I sympathise with your symptoms, but PLEASE stop beating yourself up about this. You got through it, and got positive feedback from your audience.

What makes you think they were "just being kind"? Why would they not genuinely mean it? It's a well-known fact that women routinely underestimate their abilities and performance in a way that their male colleagues rarely do. Women tend to attribute success to "luck" and compliments to people "being kind", while their male colleagues put it down to their being the mutt's nuts.

You went up there, experienced a physiological anxiety response, and yet you still got through it. Surely this is a sign of your innate excellence? Plus, as you note, you warmed up towards the end and managed to relax a bit. Even better, you got unprompted positive comments from the audience afterwards. You rock!

If, like me, you tend to have an anxious dispostion, fret about your performance and are self-critical, try writing down a list of everything that went WELL during your presentation. Focus on those bits and pat yourself on the back. It's telling that most of what you've posted about your talk dwells in the negatives!

If you dwell on the negatives too much you risk winding yourself up and making yourself needlessly MORE anxious about the next presentation you have to make. This would be a shame, because as you found when you started to relax towards the end of the talk: your nerves can and will settle down.

Everyone gets a jolt of adrenaline when they stand up to give a talk--it's probably what caused your dry mouth and sweating. Try to see it that way: it's just a natural physiological reaction, you can deal with it perfectly well, and its effects will diminish the more experience you get delivering presentations.

googlenut Sat 16-Mar-13 11:25:28

Thanks you two for such lovely supportive posts, welled up a bit reading them. What a kind lot you are.

badbride Sat 16-Mar-13 11:27:59

Actually googlenut, at the risk of sounding bossy, I'd like you to come back and tell us 3 things that went WELL about your presentation. Obviously, you can be slightly vague so as not to identify yourself. But all we've heard so far is googlenut beating herself up. Come on, where's the good stuff? grin. Answers on a post, please:


googlenut Sat 16-Mar-13 11:32:23

1. My research is groundbreaking and everyone was enthusiastic afterwards - loads of question which I really enjoyed.
2. This was the first PowerPoint presentation I've done and it was very good material ( lots of pictures and video clips that I spoke to). The content was good.
3 when I relaxed enough to take in the audience I managed to make natural eye contact so everything seemed less scary and I projected my voice well (tend to have a soft voice)

Phew that's better smile

badbride Sat 16-Mar-13 11:49:32

Brilliant! Sounds like you aced it grin. The nervousness you experienced was a mere detail: the audience loved the material, asked lots of questions; the content was engaging and interesting and the presenter was personable and intelligible. Beats many of the talks I've been to hands-down.

Combatting nerves is often merely a question of perspective.

Bartlebee Sat 16-Mar-13 12:05:59

I had to give a hugely important, hour long presentation. I practised over and over, usually in my car.

On the day I felt totally prepared but when I got into the vast lecture hall my nerves completely and unexpectedly took over. My heart was banging in my chest and I thought 'I can't do this'. It was a horrible feeling.

But, while I was being introduced, I forced myself to breathe and calm down. I was absolutely fine after that and actually enjoyed it.

Rootatoot Sat 16-Mar-13 16:35:55


Wanted to chip in yesterday but on mobile phone and it was being a pain so here's my bit, all be it belated...

I work as pt lecturer. I'm relatively new to it and for the first few months at least, I suffered from the involuntary nervousness you describe. For me, it was flushing, red blotchy neck, croaky breaking voice etc. I used to get around that with drinking LOTS of water. I always took big bottle of water in with me.

I can HONESTLY say that it just goes away the more you do it.

The other thing i notice, which I know only this week really, is that what YOU think happened is not what actually happened. I recorded some stuff for students for the first time this week. I thought that at least some of it would be cack but actually when I played it back, I thought (though I say so myself) it was pretty good!

Could you practice and record yourself and see if that helps?

The other other thing is that I HATE POWERPOINT. I always felt it was clunky and didn't really help things to flow. I have now discovered PREZI as an alternative. Google them. You can get a free account if you have a email address which I would have thought you do. It is sooooo easy and much nicer. Can upload from youtube etc. Just quicked my workflow and have had really positive feedback from students.

I bet you were good even if you sounded nervous. Well done on your research too smile

googlenut Sat 16-Mar-13 16:49:33

Thanks so much for that- I'll look into prezzi. Can I thank you all for being so supportive- it has really helped.

MrsCosmopilite Sun 17-Mar-13 12:16:13

Sounds as though it went really well, Google, despite your nerves.

Interestingly I was only reading something about Prezi yesterday. Something my friend (German) was translating into English about the company. They seem to be very much up and coming. I might check them out myself.

MerylStrop Sun 17-Mar-13 12:20:32

I get v nervous too, in advance

I cannot do the practice/read thing

I get through by making sure I am convinced I know what I am talking about

And winging it on the actual words

Seems to work much better and then it feels like I am in a conversation with the people in the room, rather than worrying about what I haven't remembered

Seems to work.

janey68 Sun 17-Mar-13 12:29:56

Well done! I do a lot of presentation in my work and can tell you it all gets easier and more 'normal' the more you do it

One suggestion: as you found the Q and A part enjoyable and really got into your stride, could you incorporate a question or something interactive at the start of any future presentations? Of course the main Q and A still need to be after the talk, but sometimes gaining audience involvement early on can break the ice and stop you feeling that the spotlight is all on you, which is what brings about the nerves

googlenut Sun 17-Mar-13 14:04:59

Yes in previous jobs (not academic) I have started with audience participation and that has worked really well at easing the nerves. Not quite so easy to do in academic presentations but its something I'm going to give serious thought to. Despite hating public speaking I do have a passion to make any presentation I make really interesting and memorable for the audience - I'm amazed at how often you have to sit through presentations as an academic and that it's great if you can do something a little bit different. Will give this a lot of thought.

cumfy Sun 17-Mar-13 21:19:29

I had a friend who had a very similar experience to you.

Very outgoing, people person who could chat all night long, just became stage-struck when doing an academic presentation.
It was the lack of person-to-person feedback that completely threw them.

It really is completely different skillset to other social interaction at which extroverts tend to excel; you really are on your own and actually as an introvert, I relatively-speaking, think I feel less stressed than a lot of people, precisely because there is very limited interaction.

googlenut Mon 18-Mar-13 08:22:46

That's interesting Cumfy. And I do agree that not getting feedback from the audience while you are talking is a really strange sensation. Have decided I really need to spend more time speaking in situations like this but that are a bit less daunting - so maybe speaking to undergrads about my work. Am going to make inquiries over the next few weeks.

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