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What is your pre-presentation routine?

What are your last-minute preparations/routines before giving a talk? We asked our editors just this! Here is some of their advice!

Graphic text reads what's your pre-presentation routine? Here's some tips from our editors. All tips in piece.

There are situations that make us nervous and/or excited, but we know we would do best if we were relaxed and at ease instead!

This might apply to presenting recent results in the workgroup, giving a talk at a conference, reaching the big thesis defense, or getting *that* job interview—it's a quite common situation to be in. Find here some tips how we, the PhD Balance editors, approach such situations.

First, there are the basics:

  • Check that the technical stuff is working.

  • Have all needed papers/notes ready.

  • Go to the toilet.

  • Have some water close by.

These strategies help presenters feel confident that their set-up is prepared and that they will feel physically comfortable while presenting, but there are so many other steps we can take to support ourselves as we prepare for a talk. Here, we suggest a few things that may help keep you grounded:

  1. Ensure that you have multiple file sources of your presentation. You never know what sort of technical glitches may occur. Be sure that you print, email, and save your presentation on a USB stick.

  2. Withdraw to a calm place for a few minutes to find focus and breath. Doing some light movements or stretching (e.g. shoulders and neck) can be helpful.

  3. Arrive early so that you can inspect the room. Are you on a stage? Is there a podium? How large is the room? Where is the screen in reference to your speaking position? Knowing the room layout can help reduce some anxiety and help you determine any last-minute planning for how you deliver your talk.

  4. Do you gesture a lot while speaking? Perhaps you could try holding a pen or pencil to avoid moving your hands too much and distracting the audience from your talk. Twirling a rubber band or a paperclip can also work.

  5. Walking around during your talk can keep you from being obviously jittery. If there is room and the situation allows, consider moving from side to side on the stage (but don’t overdo it, or it could become distracting).

  6. Is the talk virtual? If so, ensure that the room where you give the talk is quiet and has a good internet connection. Ensure that both the microphone and webcam are working properly. Much like point three, arrive early and understand the virtual format beforehand.

  7. If the presentation is online/at home: have something comforting, out of the camera's sight – a favourite picture, grounding fragrance, cosy blanket/wool socks. Provide yourself with a welcoming space that makes you feel relaxed.

  8. Do not focus on negative feelings or thoughts of delivering a bad presentation.

  9. Try to imagine how it will feel after you have successfully given your talk.


Big thanks to our editors Laura, Bryan and Ignacio for putting together these tips!

If you'd like to submit a story or piece, anonymously or named, fill out our google form or email us at


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