Here are two tricks that will immediately help you overcome your fear of public speaking: see it and believe it. In other words, visualize success. These are tricks that athletes, actors, and musicians use, so you should also. Think about it. In preparing for your presentation, you have constantly struggled to overcome the fear of failure. This negative voice in your head and its accompanying image needs to be replaced by a positive one.
To counter this negative voice, spend some time picturing in your mind the successful presentation you are going to give. Really fill in the details of the picture. Imagine the details of the setting such as the setup for the speaker and how your audience will be seated. Silently go through your presentation as you picture yourself delivering it. See yourself as confident, well dressed, good posture, relaxed and making natural gestures. See the audience smiling back at you and being receptive to your ideas. Do you want to be calm and confident? Do you want to engage your audience? Then, picture it.
Let’s look at what professional athletes do to overcome nerves and achieve success. Phil Farmer coached the Bryan brothers, the most successful tennis doubles team ever. He instructed them to “visualize how you’re going to handle tough situations, maybe even what you do if you lose the first set. It is also important to visualize holding the trophy up, winning that last point, and being successful with certain patterns that you’ve been practicing. If you visualize it, then when you get out there, you’ve already seen it.”
Farmer told me that how much a professional tennis player should visualize depends on the player. Some players visualize as early as the week before a match. However, all players should definitely visualize the night before and repeat the visualization in a smaller amount about an hour before the match.
The same advice applies to presenters. Find out what works best for you.