Conquering Oral Presentation Anxiety

Hello hello fierce schoolwork slayers,

Today’s topic is the dreaded oral presentation, and how to conquer it.  For the lucky few, oral presentations are just another assignment, but for many of us they are a form of cruel and unusual punishment.  The mere mention of getting up in front of the class and talking makes our palms sweat, our chests heave, and our minds race with possible excuses to get out of it.  Having an anxious reaction such as this to an in-class presentation can not only impact the quality of the presentation itself, but can also affect your productivity in the days leading up to it, as you agonize over the coming torture.  Below are a handful of tips to make in-class presentations your bitch.

  1. Positivity and practice.  Pick out your outfit ahead of time, write up index cards so you don’t forget what you want to say, and rehearse the presentation, ideally in front of a mirror.  Focus on the speed and clarity of your speech.  And as you practice, visualize it going well, visualize yourself acing that presentation. Hell, visualize the audience in their underwear if that helps – it’s an oldy but a goodie.
  2. Props can help deflect the attention of the crowd.  If the idea of all eyes on you is the main source of your anxiety, prepare a slideshow or a handout for the class so their eyes will mostly be on that, and not on you.
  3. Be prepared.  Preparation will help soothe your nerves.  Double check before you leave that you have everything you need – laptop, notecards, handouts, etc. Get to the presentation a few minutes early so you have time to see the lay of the land.  Right before you start, take a deep breath to calm any last minute nerves.
  4. Power stance.  My fellow Grey’s Anatomy viewers will recognize this tip, or perhaps you’ve heard about it elsewhere, but studies have shown that standing in a superhero/power stance for a few minutes before a big presentation will make you feel more prepared and confident.  So go to the bathroom for a little privacy, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips, look to the sky, and let your inner warrior out.
  5. Keep things in perspective.  If you stumble over a word, or speak out of order of your notecards, it may feel like a disaster.  It’s important to remember though that these kinds of mistakes often don’t register with the audience.  So if you trip up give yourself the opportunity to take a deep breath and push on – you’re doing great.


Good luck, you’re gonna do great!

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.” –T.S. Eliot

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