About Us

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Controlling the nerves during online presentations


By Shorba Harkhu

My palms are cold and sweaty, and I can feel the pounding of my heart in my chest. I hope the tenseness in my voice does not carry through. Thank goodness they cannot see my trembling hands. But … wait a minute this is not one of my bad dreams. These anxious moments and uneasiness occur quite often when I have to present an online session.

You may ask yourself why this is so, as I am not presenting before a live audience. I am not in a room full of beady eyes staring at me who are making me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Neither do I have toworry about making eye contact with my audience. Then why are the virtual presentations so unnerving. Gershman (2020) states that pre-Covid we could rely on the audience response to confirm that our message was being received. In virtual presentations, however, we lack audience feedback and we don’t see body language. Furthermore, virtual presentations lend themselves to different types of distractions, technical glitches and creepy “I-feel-like-I’m-just-talking-to-myself” moments (Kelakos, 2020).

How do we overcome feelings of anxiety and nervousness during a presentation? Kelakos (2020) offers these valuable points:

·       Use breathing techniques. A common problem for anxious presenters, is talking too quickly, a shaky voice and running out of breath. Clayton (2020) advises one to take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, then a normal breath. Regulating your breathing is a great way to stop saying “erm” and “um” when presenting (Clayton, 2020).

·       Make friends with your camera. Kelakos (2020) suggests that we schedule a solo Zoom meeting and talk to the camera as if we are talking to our best friend. She further states that the more you practice this, the more relaxed you will be (Kelakos, 2020).

·       Interact with your audience. Before your training, talk with your participants. Ask them questions, in the chat or otherwise and engage with them as much as possible.

·       Don’t be a perfectionist. You are bound to make mistakes or forget information. The more human and real you project yourself to be, the more your audience is going to connect with you (Kelakos, 2020)

Hanson further (2016) points out that we need to make friends with the pause. When you’re feeling anxious, you might want to finish your presentation as soon as possible. If you talk too fast, your audience might not remember anything. Pausing can be a great tool for giving your audience a chance to process what you’ve said, as well as giving you the opportunity to catch your breath.

I have also discovered that writing down key points and explanations (aka a lesson plan) helps. Those hard to explain terms like the dreaded Boolean operators and H-index can all be penned to paper. Anytime you feel stuck during your presentation, glance up at your notes to remember what you have to say.

Finally planning, preparation and rehearsing before a training session is key. This will undoubtedly help to curb the nerves.

How do you counteract the nerves? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. 




 Reference List


CLAYTON, D. 2020. Presentation skills: don’t forget to breathe! [Online]. Available: https://simplyamazingtraining.co.uk/blog/presentation-skills-dont-forget-breathe [Accessed].

GERSHMAN, S. 2020. Yes, virtual presenting is weird [Online]. Available: https://hbr.org/2020/11/yes-virtual-presenting-is-weird [Accessed].

HANSON, J. 2016. How to keep your audience engaged during an online presentation [Online]. Available: https://visme.co/blog/engage-audience-online-presentation/ [Accessed].

KELAKOS, E. 2020. 5 ways to beat Zoom Performance Anxiety (ZPA) [Online]. Available: https://theelenigroup.com/2020/06/5-ways-to-beat-zoom-performance-anxiety-zpa/ [Accessed].


No comments:

Post a Comment