How Can I Calm My Nerves Before a Presentation? Turn Panic into Poise

It’s no secret that public speaking tops many lists of the Top Ten Fears and Phobias. The mere thought of standing up and speaking to a group of people makes them break out in hives. Even seasoned professional presenters know as soon as you take the stage, so to speak, and as soon as the spotlight is on you, the anticipation of that presentation will manifest itself physically in some form or fashion—no matter how many years’ experience you have and no matter how much of a subject matter expert you are.

Below are some practical doable physical stress reducers for getting rid of the shaky hands and quivering voice before your presentation:

Run the stairs.

One day prior to a conference presentation, I saw my good friend and fellow speaker running up and down several flights of stairs in his freshly pressed suit, power tie, and newly shined dress shoes. “Joel, what in the world are you doing? Did you forget something you need for your presentation?” His reply was, “No, I do this before every speech; getting rid of my excess energy through exercise calms my nerves.”

Engage in quick vigorous exercise.

You can run the stairs like Joel. You can jog around in the hallway. You can jump up and down back stage before they call your name. Dispensing your excess energy through movement works well; just don’t get too sweaty.


Don’t forget to breathe. Take a few deep breaths, and relax your shoulders as you exhale to relieve tension and tightness. Much of your anxiety is energy that needs to be released.

Stay warm.

Industrial psychologists tell us the body gets colder when you are nervous. Drink room temperature water sans ice, and perhaps bring an extra jacket to wear prior to your presentation.

Hold the caffeine.

Coffee and colas serve to heighten anxiety, causing you to become tense and slowing the flow of oxygen to your brain. For what it’s worth, caffeine is a natural diuretic—and that’s all I’ll say about that before a presentation.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Don’t take sleeping pills, and try not to look at your presentation notes after 6 p.m.


Do a few neck rolls to stretch and loosen up.


To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.


Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 



Photo by Etty Fidele on Unsplash