Tips & Techniques

Feeling jittery about your next talk and need some quick pointers? We update these tips regularly as a resource for you to use to keep up with your presentation skills.

Prepping for the Talk

Should I use ice breakers or jokes to start my talk? Presenters often want to use a joke or ice breaker to lighten the mood and relax the group. The group is not nervous, you, the presenter, are. Jokes can be risky; they can offend or can simply not be funny. Have you ever been to a talk where the joke did not go over well? Probably yes. Jokes that do not work leave the presenter in an even worse situation. There are less risky ways to get the group ‘on your side’ and engaged, including smiling, making sustained eye contact, opening with a story or genuine personal connection to the group.

How do I stop feeling nervous before/during a talk? You may never stop feeling nervous, but there are ways to control it. Nerves are usually the manifestation of energy, and you need that energy - it just needs to be channeled. Performers in all fields use the following techniques successfully to manage nerves: “pre-game” rituals (like reviewing notes, taking a walk, setting the stage) relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or a few minutes alone, or visualization techniques, where you visualize the talk going well, the audience smiling and laughing, the concluding questions and the applause.

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