Interview and presentation nerves

When you have an interview or presentation coming up it's quite natural that you might feel nervous, especially if you haven't had to do many before. Learning how to manage your nerves will leave you feeling more in control and able to perform. There are some great ways that you prepare and keep these nerves at bay.

Practical steps you can take

Change your Thinking

Notice any worries you have, write them down or share them with someone you trust. Test out how accurate these worries are, by asking “How likely is that to happen (e.g. I forget some points about why I'm interested in the job/course)? If it did, how can I plan to avoid that?” Try this exercise to help you explore what you’re nervous about, and how to reframe it in a more positive way: Interview and presentation nerves - creating positive thoughts exercise

Now write a quick action plan as to how you can overcome these problems. How could you tackle this situation or problem differently? Build up your confidence by focussing on positives and reviewing your achievements.

Change Your Body Language

Adopting a positive posture will make you feel calmer. Smile, this simple act can make you feel happier, because when you smile you release the body’s natural feel good chemicals in the brain. Watch the TED talk by Amy Cuddy which shows how a change in your body language can affect your confidence.

Move to release any tension

Exercising helps to work out any excess adrenaline and will help to make your feel better by releasing the body’s natural mood enhancing chemicals. Taking a walk and getting some fresh air and noticing the world around you is a great way to take your mind off your nerves.

Change Your Breathing

Breathing more deeply and taking twice as long to breath out than breathing in will have a calming effect, breath in for a count of 6 and out for a count of 12. This in turn will help calm your mind if it is racing and help to level out your voice.

Relax Your Muscles

Relax the shoulders and muscles in the face and neck will help you to feel calm. Practice this activity by doing a body scan exercise or try a guided relaxation techniques. workshop in the University’s well-being rooms


When you are anxious, you can lose your appetite altogether or feel like you need to boost your energy with caffeine and sugar. Maintaining a healthy balance will help you to remain calm and in control.


  • Preparing for interview questions can help you to feel more confident about what the company does and what questions they may ask you
  • Review your CV so that you feel familiar and confident to cite examples from your own experiences – see interview section of our website
  • In the interview, if you need more time to think of your answer, you could:
    • Ask them to repeat the question
    • Ask 'can I have a moment to consider that?'
    • Ask if you could come back to that question


  • If you have been advised of your presentation topic in advance, rehearse so you feel practised at what you will say.
  • If you don’t know the topic, recognise that there’s no point worrying about that as it will be a surprise for every candidate. Instead, focus on your audience, and helping them. What do they want to hear about? How will I make sure I deliver that for them? This can make you feel more confident because you are no longer focusing on yourself.

Useful resources

You might also find a simulation interview with a Careers Consultant a helpful way to prepare and get feedback on your performance and what you could do to improve.