Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
What’s one way to calm your nerves before a pitch or presentation?
1. Prepare for the First and Last Minutes of Your Presentation
Knowing exactly what to say in the beginning and end of your presentation will help build confidence. This also makes it easier to get started and build some momentum throughout the presentation. Take time to practice and perfect the first and last few minute of your presentation for less panic and stronger impact.
2. Put Everything in Perspective
Everything is temporary. Before I go into a pitch or a presentation, I like to think about just how big our lives are and yet also how small our lives are in this world. When I start thinking about the bigger things in life, a presentation or a pitch seems relatively minor and small. In the end, it is really just a moment of your life. No matter how it turns out, you’ll be okay.
3. Think About All the ‘No’s’ You’ve Already Overcome
If you’re making an important pitch or presentation, you’ve already hit milestones and achieved some level of success. Now think back to all the times you’ve been slowed in your journey and all the roadblocks you’ve overcome. If hearing the word “no” is the worst that could happen, and this hasn’t stopped you before, it can’t hurt you now.
4. Engage the Audience
Pitching or presenting to friends is much easier than to strangers. Before you ever get on stage or in the front of the room, make it a point to befriend at least a few people in the room. Just a few minutes of small talk around shared interests can completely calm the nerves and allow you to focus on giving them a great presentation experience. Everyone else will be along for the ride.
5. Take a Walk Around the Block
There’s no better way to calm your nerves and hit the reset button than by getting some fresh air. Prior to a big presentation, I’ve most likely been inside going through my notes for hours on end, so taking a step back and having that change of scenery enables me to clear my mind and refocus. A quick walk around the block is just enough to help me calm down and get my head in the game.
6. Do 30 Seconds of High Intensity Exercise
Jumping on a trampoline (see Tony Robbins), doing air squats, push ups, jumping jacks for 30 to 60 seconds before a critical presentation, phone call, or pitch works wonders for me. It ramps up my intensity, focuses my mind, and clears out the cobwebs. It also puts me in that positive “I-can-take-on-the-world” state of mind.
7. Change Breathing Patterns
We often underestimate the profound and beneficial effects of changing our breathing patterns. When we’re feeling tense or nervous, focusing on our breath for a short time and changing the cadence to longer, slower, more intentional in-and-out breaths can really trigger a calming effect on your mind and body.
8. Remember 80% of Success is Showing Up
It’s easy to convince yourself that you need to be pitch-perfect each and every time. The truth? Sometimes good enough is good enough. I worry less about perfection and more about making sure I seize the right opportunities.
9. Record Yourself
I record my practice sessions and watch them to see what I look like and how confident I appear. This practice and visual display help me see what my audience would see so I can make improvements. The better I think I look and present, the calmer I feel.
10. Know Your Pitch Really Well
Make sure you know your pitch or presentation really well – upside down and inside out. Practice giving your pitch to a few individuals beforehand and get their feedback on how to make it better and stronger. Finally, you should feel passionate about your message. If you’re really passionate about it, that passion will help override your nervousness and anxiety.
Meditation is a tool that I have used for years to help me gain clarity and focus. Spending a few minutes before a high-stakes meeting meditating helps me feel more calm and collected, allowing me to better deliver my message.
12. Make a Cheat Sheet
I find it extremely helpful to make a simple and easy-to-read cheat sheet with main talking points before a pitch. This gives me an opportunity to condense the presentation into several key points that I can review leading up to the presentation. By concentrating on these key points, I can ensure that if all else fails, I am still well-versed in my talking points in the face of nerves.
13. Anticipate Questions and Over Prepare
Before a presentation, I make sure I run through the slide deck and know exactly what I am going to say on every single slide. I also write out all of the questions I think people will ask and write down exactly how I will answer them. By over preparing, I am being respectful of my time and theirs, and setting us up for success and closing the deal.