1. Prepare. Start early. Know your audience and your subject matter. Craft your speaking points, build your slides, and learn your material. There's no substitute for preparation.
2. Practice. After you prepare the content, practice, practice, practice. There's no better way to calm your nerves and ensure a winning presentation than to rehearse your presentation aloud. Ideally, recruit a dress rehearsal audience, record your practice sessions, and review the recordings.
3. Visualize your success. According to sports psychologists, when athletes vividly visualize their success, they manifest higher win rates. Before your next presentation, mentally walk yourself through the presentation. Picture yourself speaking with confidence and poise. See your audience responding positively.
4. Practice positive self-talk. Replace negative thinking with affirmations. Say to yourself, "I am a dynamic speaker." "I am enthusiastic and engaging." "I am prepared and confident." As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right."
5. Greet & meet the audience. Shake hands and talk with as many people as possible ahead of time. Conversation relaxes your nerves and establishes rapport with your audience.
6. Exercise lightly and breathe deeply before you speak. In a private setting beforehand, do some light stretching, a few knee-bends, or take a brisk walk down the hall and back. This rids the body of excess energy. In addition, take several deep breaths. Inhale through the nose on a slow count of three; and exhale through the mouth on a slow count of three. Deep breathing calms the nerves and floods the brain with oxygen.
7. Memorize your opening. Nervousness is almost always the most intense at the beginning of a presentation. To offset this rush of adrenalin, memorize your first few sentences. Learn them so well you don't have to read text or search for the words. This empowers you to start strong and make a confident first impression despite nervousness.
8. Claim the three audience truths: 1) They believe you're the expert, so don't tell them otherwise. 2) They want you to succeed, so realize they're on your side 3) They won't know when you make a mistake, so don't announce it.
9. Smile. Sincere smiling emits chemicals in the brain that calms the nerves and promotes a sense of well being. Plus, it shows your audience that you're happy to see them and enthusiastic about the message.
10. Embrace reality. The fact is, you don't look as nervous as you feel. Presenters who review their recorded presentations almost always say, "Wow, that's pretty good! I don't look nearly as nervous as I felt." Take comfort and remember: your audience does not see how you feel inside; they only see how you look and act on the outside.
If you would like to learn how to become a more confident persuasive presenter, please read my book Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in Hardcover, Kindle, and Audio).