Last week, I shared some tips to help you mentally prepare for any nerves you may experience on the big stage in this blog post. I hope those mental strategies resonated with you. What makes me most nervous when presenting is when I feel I haven’t prepared. Preparing for content is everything! 

Personally, nerves can be managed. It’s a lot harder to make things up! So to limit the amount of stress come showtime, get really familiar with your content. The most useful reason for getting comfortable with content is being able to freestyle because you know your key messages so well. You can veer off course, ad lib and come back to your foundational flow with confidence. It also helps you connect with the audience better because you’re not so hellbent on the language, facts and figures… but on them.

Use Cue Cards to Support A Natural Presentation (With Tips)

What is the quickest way for you to jog your memory? For me, I use cue cards and I keep bullet points with trigger words. I don’t write down all the other words and facts because if you’ve rehearsed this, it should already come naturally to you. Perhaps if there’s an important figure I’d like to share, I’ll write that down, too! But it’s just a quick guide to glance down upon and nudge me along the way! Tip: make it in a size and font that’s easy for you to see. Use a highlighter if it helps limit the time to find the bullet point! I use Arial size 11.

Ideally you’re just charting your flow of the conversation. You want to limit the time you’re looking at cards, a tablet or any screen. You want to maximize being really present in the room and connecting to that one person in the audience.

Test and And Remember Your Key Messages to Be Presentation Ready (With Examples)

A great way to test if you are ready is to jumble up the bullet points and see if you’re able to still remember those chunks of key messages even if you’re not saying them in the order you’ve prepared your presentation! This is important because sometimes when you’re really in the moment, you can get ahead of yourself and move to a different part of your presentation because it feels right in that moment. And that’s ok! That’s the fun part of freestyling and feeding off what’s coming to life right there and then. But to do this well, you need to know your stuff! You just want to make sure you know how to pull it back and bring the story home even when you’ve skipped some bits!

For example:

OPEN: hook them with a relatable story or ask them a question. Give them something to think about!

  • theme for the presentation & why it matters to them (your audience)

TOPIC A (stories & examples: WHAT, SO WHAT, NOW WHAT?)

  • supporting evidence
  • data
  • example of this in action

TOPIC B (stories & examples: WHAT, SO WHAT, NOW WHAT?)

  • supporting evidence
  • data
  • personal experience & how it’s human and relatable

TAKE IT HOME: recap key messages and give them a clear take-away, action to take!

Everyone has their process! Nerves are normal and perhaps you’ll never feel fully prepared. But chances are, once you hit the stage and get in flow, it’ll all come back to you because you’ve embodied it before. Tip: don’t just read and re-read your pointers. Stand up, walk around, speak out loud the way you would come show time! In this way, muscle memory kicks in when you’re up there, it feels much more comfortable and familiar.

You got this!

You might also be interested in the ‘Managing Nerves at Your Next Presentation’ blog post where I share my quick guide on how to not be nervous at your next presentation with a helpful reminder to control presentation anxiety. I also share what to do if you’re one of those people that get overwhelmed by big crowds with a simple hack.


Download a specially curated and comprehensive guide inspired by my go-to philosophy for winning the room! I discuss tangible tactics to connect quickly and empathically while generating buy-in at your next presentation. Learn more about how to “Win the Room”.


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