Helpful Tips for Tackling Presentation Jitters

Imagine you’re standing in front of an audience about to give a presentation. You might start to wonder, “why am I shaking?” “Why is my voice a pitch higher?” “Why am I dizzy?” “Why is my mouth so dry?” “Why am I rocking back and forth?” We’ve all been there before and nerves affect us all differently, some might feel like their heart is about to jump right out of their chest, some may get light headed, while others may actually get tongue-tied. Having a well-prepared presentation is only one part of delivering a successful presentation; you need to try to get those nerves under control too. Even though I have years of experience talking in front of groups and working in front of a camera on live television, I am still frequently overcome with jitters and nerves that could completely ruin my presentation.

There are many steps you can take to help get over presentation jitters before, during and after.


1: Over prepare, especially the opening!

Once the opening is knocked out of the water the rest will come easy. So over prepare the entire presentation but put some extra time into preparing the opening.

2: Practice, practice, practice.

Practice speaking out loud to a mirror, practice in front of family and friends, whatever works for you. Just make sure you practice out loud! Reading in your head is a lot different than actually speaking out loud and this will help you feel more comfortable with not only speaking out loud but with your material as well.


1: Acknowledge the fear.

Once you realize what you are feeling is simply a fear; you can help coax yourself through it.

2: Breathe!

This is as simple as it sounds, just breathe! Take a few slow, deep breaths and get some extra oxygen to your brain.

3: Move around while giving your presentation.

This will help you loosen up a little and at least appear less nervous. However, if you are unable to move around and do need to stay in one place during your presentation, be sure to avoid locking your knees so you don’t pass out!

4: Focus!

Don’t let your mind wander, remember what you are there to do. You are there to present important information.

5: Remember that your audience is interested in what you have to say.

The people you are giving the presentation to are there for a reason, they are interested in the information you are presenting. Keeping this key point in mind will help those jitters tremendously.


Recognize the positive aspects of your presentation.

How you made eye contact with your audience, how you had thought-provoking participation from the audience, and most importantly how you completed the presentation! Recognizing the positive points and not the negative ones will help tackle future presentation jitters because hey, you’ve done this before and you survived!

Audrey is a senior Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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