Presentation skills: Handling the nerves
  • Jul 19, 2021
  • EOE Digital

Cold sweats, accelerated heart rate, nerve shakes, and the hearing of your own heartbeat. This is the dreaded stage fright. According to Make It, speech anxiety is one of the most common social fears and affects 15% to 30% of the general population.

On the contrary, some people are confident in their presentation skills and do not experience social fears at all. As a matter of fact, as a financial advisor, you are probably quite confident in your pitching abilities and have been doing this for years. Yet, there are still those high-profile prospects that put you on the edge of your seat.

Luckily, improving your presentation skills has nothing to do with changing your personality and more to do with understanding how people listen.

Here is a trick: pretend you are in the audience listening to yourself and picture what you would change.

 A guideline:


If you were listening to yourself from an audience’s perspective and you start talking in a monotonous voice with no introduction, you might find this odd. I know in the beginning you want to get the presentation done or you’re pressed for time, but spend time on your introduction. We mentioned previously that people make judgments of you within 7 seconds so make them count! Plus, this acknowledges the audience’s presence, demonstrates respect, and creates a favourable impression.


Get to the point

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it is easy for some people to start off talking about their day and how nervous they are. Remember to get to the point. It's okay to include little facts about yourself if they are related to your topic or to converse with the audience and ask them questions. Start off with the introduction. Tell the audience what you will be discussing, why you are discussing it, and why this is relevant to them.


Be Legible

When you have an audience or a prospect, try and reduce the cognitive work as much as possible:

  • Ensuring you have a nicely lit room.
  • Your content is large enough to be seen from the back.
  • Test equipment pre-hand. Technical difficulties could add to your nerves.
  • Speak slowly and clearly and avoid words such as “like” or “um”


Share what you think and how you feel

Once the ball gets rolling you will find the nerves start to subside. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions and don’t forget to end with a conclusion. Mention the specific action that you want the audience to take (this could be signing a registration form or a follow-on social media). The conclusion will remind the audience of what was discussed and encourages them to take that specified action.

If all else fails, remember to take deep breaths and remember that they are just people like you.