In the past 30 years, I’ve given more than 3,000 speeches to audiences across the world. Presentations have been such a central part of my work that many who know me best have been surprised to learn how much anxiety they used to cause me. After my fourth root canal, my dentist pointed out that I appeared to be grinding my teeth at night. He suggested a mouth guard. Over the next few years, I ground through three of them. Fortunately, materials science advanced faster than my grinding and I eventually received a more durable one. Still, I had almost resigned myself to the fact that fitful sleep, restless legs, and a variety of aches throughout my body were the price of the career I had chosen.
I knew I had turned a corner 10 years ago when I was invited to speak to a prestigious business audience at Radio City Music Hall. I slept peacefully the night before. And when I stepped through the crimson curtains to face 6,000 nattily dressed executives, my former panic and dread were replaced with a sense of exhilaration and gratitude.
As I came to realize that presentations would be a permanent facet of my career, I began accumulating tactics to increase my pleasure while reducing the pain. Here are six that have made an enormous difference for me: