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Presentation Prep: Mastering the Art of Presenting

Graphic by Molly Wallace

The Creative Ink hit the ground running when the spring semester began a couple of weeks ago. Over two weeks, members new and old worked feverishly on a pop-up project. The goal was to design a poster for The Stephens College Playhouse Theatre Company’s production of Emma. Each team was challenged to develop three options and present them to the clients.

Even members of Creative Ink get butterflies and sweaty palms before giving a presentation. We’re all human, and it’s natural to have a bit of fear when it comes to public speaking. Professor Kate Gray gave us all a few tips on how to calm the nerves before a presentation. Here is her advice and some more tricks to prepare for public-speaking like a professional.

Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your script over and over again. Make those words flow out of your mouth when speaking to the audience. Speaking at a slower pace, in a lower tone, and taking pauses in between sentences will make your points more clear and you will deliver a more convincing speech.

Drink water. Adrenaline is probably rushing through your body as it gets closer to your time to speak. This hormone can make you feel short of breath, have dry mouth, and get tongue-tied when it is your time to present. To combat those effects, stay hydrated before and sip water during (if allowed) the presentation.

Avocado, turkey, yogurt, and oranges. What do each of these foods have in common? They’re all tasty ways to calm anxiety. Avocados are known to contain blood pressure-lowering potassium and essential B-vitamins. Turkey, oats, and sesame seeds are filled with the calming amino-acid Tryptophan. Full-fat yogurt is packed with protein, fat, and carbs to lower your blood pressure. And citrus foods are a fantastic source of Vitamin C that fights off stress hormones like Cortisol.

Chewing gum. Studies have shown that chewing gum helps one become alert, focused, and calm down any anxiety. So, chomp on a stick of gum and be sure to spit it out when the time comes to speak before your audience.

Do a few difficult math problems. Another way to get the gears going in your brain is to solve challenging math problems. It’ll help you become focused on your words and how to strategically convey your message.

Stand and take deep breaths. Assume the power stance you’ll have in the presentation and practice deep breathing. This advice may be overused, but it works. Deep breaths will get your brain the oxygen it needs to calm the body. Also, moving around a bit is an exercise to boost endorphins and to replace the nervous energy.

Remember– it’s about the audience. Turn that nervousness about yourself into excitement to share what you know with the listeners. Spend your attention focusing on how you will enthusiastically communicate your information to them.

And lastly–

Smile, you’re going to do great. Smiling is a natural way to relax because it sends positive chemical messages throughout the body. Think with confidence and get those good vibes going. Visualize yourself delivering an engaging presentation, and make it happen!

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