Most of us have to, at some point during our careers, public speak; whether owning your own business or in your job it is a necessary evil we have to do. Some people love presenting to others, sharing their ideas and the theatre of it, others can find the whole thing daunting and try to avoid it. Wherever your view on it, presentation skills and being able to competently speak to an audience helps in career advancement, personal self-esteem and also mentoring skills.
While I don’t love presenting and still get nervous just before I go on stage, there are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that have made the whole experience a lot more relaxed.
If at first you don’t succeed…try, try, try again!
If you have a bad experience with anything i.e. horse-riding, driving, a bad takeaway you are automatically more wary of doing it again; most we can’t avoid due to lifestyle but if you have a bad public speaking session then it’s all too easy to avoid doing any presenting in the future. If your presentation doesn’t go well, please push it to the past and do another one as soon as possible. Put your name forward for presentations to your team, join a public speaking group or volunteer to be a trainer; there are plenty of times you can volunteer to present you just have to put yourself out there. The more you do it the better you will become, the less daunting it will seem and the more you will improve.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
This one is very important, the audience will know very quickly if you spent very little time on your presentation, either creating it or learning it. If you lack valid research and sources your points will have little weight, you should spend time making sure your presentation is relevant for your audience and what they want to learn about. It sounds simple enough, but the amount of times I been presented to by someone who was completely off topic for their audience is now in double figures. A true professional doesn’t need to know the whole presentation off by heart but a couple of practise runs beforehand means you won’t need to read your screen as you go…but rather use prompts to guide you, this shows the audience you cared enough to invest time into learning this for them.
Rock those confidence levels
Have you ever sat and watched someone super nervous present, it’s almost as nerve wracking for the audience as it is for the person you’re watching. The presenter radiates awkward, the audience is awkward, the whole feeling in the room is awkward and no-one has a pleasant time. Your audience takes its cue from you, if you appear relaxed and confident on the outside then your audience will relax, knowing they are in for a good session. Even if you are trembling inside push as much confidence out of yourself as you can; stand with an open posture, talk slowly and say your points with conviction.
Learning breathing exercises or using Mindfulness techniques can help calm and clarify your mind before a big public speaking event. Relax, smile and look at all those people who have turned up to hear what you have to say, they believe you are the expert…now show them that you are.