This is a guest post from Alice Jackson, a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer, and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels and creating new t shirt designs. Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1

Do you get nervous stepping on stage to give a presentation? If your answer is yes, don’t fret, even the most seasoned speakers experience anxiety. Developing presentation skills and natural eloquence takes years of practice. So fear not, here are 5 tips to help you reduce presentation anxiety:

1. Rehearse. The more you rehearse, the less anxiety you will experience while giving the presentation. By practicing, you can get a good grip on your presentation and identify content to add, edit, or delete. Some people find it comfortable to rehearse in front of a mirror, others record themselves speaking via audio (you can use the VoiceNotes app on iPhones) or video (you can set up a phone or tablet to record yourself). Whichever methods works for you, make sure you practice enough so that you can deliver your presentation naturally without looking under-rehearsed.Don’t forget that you can use a live audience: rehearse in front of colleagues or friends, and solicit their feedback and advice.

2. Engage your Audience. Another way to reduce your presentation nervousness is to avoid thinking about your presentation as a formal affair and make it more like a conversation. Nervousness is normal, but don’t let it affect your performance and instead overcome it by engaging your audience, which can help you feel more confident, open, and relaxed. A long presentation full of dry facts and figures can bore your audience and can be a yawn-inducer, so present it in a way that it feels more like a two-way communication.

You can hook your audience into your content by asking questions, sharing your own experience and examples, or by telling stories. You can try incorporating exercises or hands-on tasks to get them out of their seats and do something to help convince them of your message. For example, you can ask your audience to pair up and contemplate a question or challenge. You can give them one minute to prepare and then have them shout out their answers.Once you have three to four answers, conclude the exercise and continue your presentation, drawing on those answers. This kind of exercise will help you develop a warm rapport with your audience.

3. Arrive Early. Arriving early can help you reduce your anxiety because it gives you plenty of time to adjust to your surroundings and settle in. By arriving early, you can take note of the room or stage setup, and maybe adjust it to your needs. One strategy to test the size of the room is to bring a friend along and ask him or her to sit at the back of the room and listen to the first few moments of your presentation.

Arriving early also helps you adjust technical issues—maybe your slides didn’t transfer to the host correctly, you need a different adapter for your computer, or you have difficulty setting up the microphone. Showing up a few minutes before your talk—or worse, showing up late when your audience is already waiting!—will not give you enough time to adjust to your surroundings.

4. Prepare an Outline. An outline that lists the important talking points can be helpful and give you better control of your presentation and thus ease your nerves. You can put your outline or speaker notes in the Notes pane of your presentation software, on hand-written cards, or even your phone or tablet.

Remember, it is important to divide your presentation time between preparing your slides what you are going to say. And remember, you need to spend a lot of time explaining your slides—as Jon writes in his book, your slides are there to support you as the speaker, not replace you.

5. Dress up simply. Lastly, dress appropriately for the event. You don’t want to underdress or overdress because your appearance is a signal about how you carry yourself as a professional. Most importantly, wear something you are comfortable in and that allows movement.

It’s probably most important to keep your audience in mind when choosing your outfit. For example, you may want to dress more formal for an audience of bankers or CEOs, but maybe less formal to a group of middle school students.

Final Thoughts

These tips will help you overcome pre-presentation jitters and boost your confidence. There are, of course, many more, as Jon talks about in his book and recently wrote about on his blog. Even the best speakers make mistakes, so even if you do misspeak or a slide transition doesn’t work, smile and carry on.

So, stand up, take a deep breath and you are all set to wow your audience with your presentation skills. GoodLuck!

What tips you use to overcome pre-presentation nervousness?