If you were asked what you would not allow your best friend to buy, eat, drink or use in an effort to keep them safe and sound, what would you advise avoiding? A famous road safety advertising campaign was based on this very theme in an effort to encourage the American public not to let their friends drink and drive. Included in the list of what any caring person would not allow their friends to do was to use a certain program to create a presentation. And it was exactly this fear of presentation technology failure that created a genuine sense of panic among presenters.

Some people can stay awake worrying about whether our presentation is going to go without a hitch. Will the links to video work? What if the sounds fail to play or are too loud? How will I know if I leave a cable unplugged or forget to copy my presentation to the hardware required?

I still recall, with toe-cringing embarrassment, the worst presentation I gave. After what I thought was a promising start, I was asked, in mid-sentence, to begin again as nobody at the back of the hall could hear me - there were only about 30 people in the audience. Take two, and from the depths of my huge holdall-handbag, my mobile phone, which never rings after 6pm rang intermittently every 10 minutes. I still have no idea who was trying to call me as I inadvertently deleted the call details in my haste to turn the thing off at the end of the presentation. I had been requested to talk for an hour and a half on my chosen subject, but desperation set in when I noted from the clock that I had breezed through my slide show in a record 23 minutes. And this included the two minutes' pause when I lost my voice during the delivery, not wanting to revisit the giant bag scenario to retrieve my emergency bottle of water.

However, after all of these mini disasters had been averted, I can honestly say that this was the best presentation I had given. Why? Well, every member of the audience had a genuine interest in the subject; and I was presenting something which truly inspired me. Although my enthusiasm did not completely cover up my nervousness, it did inspire a great debate at the end of the presentation. We were able to revisit some of the slides in a more relaxed tempo after the formal presentation.

It is good to remember that the role of the presenter is not always to deliver an encyclopaedic amount of knowledge on their topic - there are text books and manuals for this - but is very often to entice the audience into a greater understanding and appreciation of the subject through their own enthusiasm.

Thankfully, as technology has advanced, so too has our trust in using the software. And you can be sure if you use Microsoft Office PowerPoint to create your presentation, you are not going to be let down due to software inadequacies. If you use PowerPoint then you know that you are using the best program to create and deliver your presentation.

The lowest points of my best and worst presentation had nothing to do with technology letting me down, but everything with being ill-prepared: I did not ask the audience if they could hear me; I left my phone on; there wasn't a refreshment to hand; and I did not stop to take natural break between each slide - or even to have a few deep breaths, which would have stopped me racing through the slides at break-neck pace. Albeit I had been slightly naive by even contemplating running a slide show for 90 minutes.

Presentation anxiety is a common cause of a presentation going wrong. Physically, for example, you might start blushing, shaking, stuttering, sweating, or get tongue tied. Mentally, you can feel a bit muddled and think that you are not making sense. The following tips will help you to relax and stay on track to deliver a professional presentation without any hitches:

Try not to let negative feedback stop you presenting again in the future. Dwelling on this type of feedback can set up a vicious spiral: next time your anxiety levels will be even higher and you are less likely to do well.

Lack of confidence is the biggest stumbling block for any presenter, and can affect thinking, feelings, behaviour and body language. Try not to label yourself as being not confident. Confidence comes from taking part and learning from our mistakes.

By taking control of your stress, you will be able to take control of the situation and to think positively.

Relaxing helps reduce the physical sensations of stress, and if your body is free of tension your mind will also be relaxed. Breathing exercises are an ideal way to relax your body and help to avoid those tremors in your voice. Practise deep breathing until it becomes a habit.

If it does help to analyse any previous negative experiences, then turn these to your advantage. The key is to recognise your thoughts and the way that they have affected your mood and confidence. Think about a previous presentation and get it into perspective by writing down how you felt then and now. Doing this usually proves that even the most awful presenting experiences are probably only due to a few blips in an otherwise smooth delivery.

Think positively and challenge any negative thoughts such as "I'm stupid", "I can't do this". Replace them consciously with "I can do this". Remind yourself that what feels like an enormous problem to you probably isn't to those watching.

A useful technique that can help stop worrying thoughts crowding in is to visualise a "stop sign" or draw a red dot. As soon as you become conscious of your worrying thoughts, concentrate on your "stop" message. This helps keep you focused.

Try to focus on the content of your talk and slow your speech down - it helps you feel in control.

And finally, never say never; avoidance makes things worse because we never have the opportunity to test our assumptions. Going through the experience and seeing that we can survive intact will help us build up our confidence for next time.

Oh, and remember to switch off your mobile!