One way to calm your nerves during a presentation is to know you have a good one going into it. It's much easier to feel confident when you have some substance to present. As with most things, preparation is crucial.
The average adult's attention span can vary depending on the individual. To be safe, aim for a shorter rather than longer speech. Find out your time limit. Then, write down all the points you need to cover. Think about it like a movie script. Edit out the least important aspects in order to keep it concise yet detailed.
Once you've put it together, rehearse your presentation until it feels natural. Insert breaks if you feel the presentation is too long. This will also allow you to segment your speech and keep you more focused on smaller bits instead of one drawn-out talk. Rehearse in front of a small, intimate audience, such as a family member. Or practice in front of a mirror. You've probably heard that before. The thought is that by rehearsing in front of a mirror, you'll see what your audience sees and can improve your delivery.
Come up with a method to keep your mind on task. For instance, picture your presentation as a story with a beginning, middle chapters and an end. If you have 10 points to your presentation, you have 10 chapters. Wrap up each chapter before moving on to the next. This will ensure your presentation is smooth.
Slow down when you're talking but not to the point of boring your audience to sleep. You want to keep them engaged. Visual aids are great for that because they serve two purposes. One, they keep the audience's eyes off you but still focused on your topic. They also serve as check points for you to work toward. This is a great way to keep your mind on task and avoid shooting from the hip.
Wandering off-topic is a surefire way to lose your audience. We'll look into how you can avoid that by polishing your presentation skills in the next section.