Even if you are the bestat what you do and you are passionate, you may lack confidence when it comes to making presentations and public speaking.
Rest assured. You are not alone. Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is widespread. Nearly 75% of professionals have this fear. It is at the top of the list of fears over that of dying and spiders.
As a professional speaker with about 50 presentations a year, I must admit that I still get nervous. French actress Sarah Bernhardt would say, “Stage fright comes with talent. ” 🙂
Since I am regularly asked for my tips for preparing effective presentations, here are my five recommendations.
I- DO YOUR HOMEWORK
What is your message? Do you want to educate, inform, survey or motivate? What do you want the participants to do after your presentation?
End this sentence: “Followiing this presentation participants will _____. This message is the reason for your presentation.
Who is your audience? What are the benefits for them to listen to you?
Orient your presentation on their motivations. Adjust your message according to their perspectives.
Be aware of their ability to concentrate on your message. Use their language and commonly used jargon as well.
Adapt. A presentation to your front-line employees will be very different than one to your Board of Directors.
II- BUILD YOUR PRESENTATION LIKE A SANDWICH
Give it “tweetable” title of 10 words or less. It must trigger interest without giving your “punch”. You will repeat it four to six times.
In a sandwich, the meat is supported above and below by two slices of bread, or lettuce if you are gluten intolerant. In your presentation, your message is supported by your introduction and your conclusion.
Present by following the rule of three. People have trouble remembering more than three arguments, benefits or actions.
III- BE PRESENT
Take your place in front with confidence. Smile. Make eye contact. Take a sip of water. Speak with the intention of giving and helping. Don’t expect anything in return.
Throughout your presentation:
- speak slowly with enthusiasm;
- take breaks do not propel yourself to “vomit” your text;
- add interactivity;
- vary your tone and rhythm;
- remove superfluous words;
- stand up straight with open body language;
- move naturally without rocking;
- look at people more than your notes.
Do not memorize all your text, only your introduction and your conclusion. For the rest, write bullets to trigger your memory. Trust your knowledge.
IV- PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE AGAIN
Repeat aloud. Do not read. Tell and invite, supported by your slides.
Register. Look at you. Criticize yourself and practice again. You know your world, skeptics and critics. Prepare also the possible objections.
Spend as much time practicing as you spend creating your presentation. Too many professionals invest all their time in preparing while neglecting the practice.
V- CREATE FAVORABLE CONDITIONS
The day before your delivery, eat comfy foods that promote sleep. Go to bed at your usual time. Do not stay up late practicing in the wee hours of the morning.
Watch what you eat and drink in the hours before your performance. No soda or sweets; your body could react with burps and farts… Maintain a high level of energy by snacking on protein foods. Minimize secretions by avoiding dairy products. Drink water at room temperature.
Dress according to your role, so you may be comfortable and in control. All the details count; from your hair to the tips of your shoes.
Test the techno and the space, ideally in the room where you will be presenting.
Fifteen minutes before your presentation, build your confidence. Arrive in the room before the other participants in the meeting. Play host. Welcome all and chat to make contact and relax.
Good preparation and practice are the best remedies for curing glossophobia. Like flying, it’s the takeoff and the landing that matter. Between the two, you are on autopilot. You know your topic. You are the one that was invited to speak. You, your message and your words are the star of your presentation, not the PowerPoint special effects.
Have fun and write to me if you need help.
This article is a translation of an adaptation written for La référence of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines du Québec.