Last-minute tactics for delivering a sterling presentation

Even veteran speakers can fall prey to pre-show jitters. Try these techniques—from a TED coach—to ease your mind and get the audience on your side before you even open your mouth.

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I’m coaching speakers for TEDMED, the medical and science TED conference, for my sixth year.

Some are first-timers on a big stage; others are seasoned pros. The good old fight-or-flight syndrome can affect all of them—along with many other last-minute issues.

They all go on to rock the TEDMED stage, and you can rock yours, whether you’re doing last-minute prep for a TED talk or just your next talk—if you remember these bits of wisdom that backstage coaches keep in their toolkits for those final moments before taking the stage:

1. Your body has a mind of its own.

Sadly, it won’t be your higher-order prefrontal brain controlling things. That’s the part of your brain you need in order to put words together and emit them from your mouth. Instead, your caveman or limbic brain will be kicking in just about now and, with it, loads of awful physical symptoms, from dry mouth to shaking hands and tight breathing. If you think, “Hey, that’s my caveman brain kicking in, and I really need my public-speaking brain right now,” your brain will come back to its senses-it’s that simple. So, don’t give in to the caveman brain’s signals.

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